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Of Skelton’s career we know comparatively little; of his 
personal appearance nothing is known. Although William 
Bullein represents him as sitting “in the corner of a pillar, 
with a frosty bitten face, frowning” and “writing many a 
sharp distichon,” 1 his reference cannot be taken as anything 
more than a hint at an imaginary portrait. The date of 
Skelton’s birth has been fixed approximately at 1460. Tradi- 
tion asserts that he was descended from the Skeltons of 
Cumberland, although Norfolk seems to have been his native 
county. Dyce thinks it probable that the poet was the “one 
Scheklton” who, according to Cole, became M. A. at 
Cambridge in 1484. 2 At any rate, we know that he was 
awarded the degree of laureate by the Universities of Oxford 
and Cambridge, honoured by University of Louvain, and, 
some years after 1494, was chosen as tutor to the young 
Prince Henry, who subsequently became Henry VIII. 
Needless to say, his reputation as a scholar, as well as his 
personal character, must have been highly esteemed at that 
time to be thought to merit such an appointment — although 
Miss Agnes Strickland, in her Lives of the Queens of England^ 
considers that “the corruption imparted by this ribald and ill- 
living wretch [i.e. Skelton] laid the foundation of his royal 
pupil’s grossest crimes!” But, as Dyce remarks, “when 
ladies attempt to write history, they sometimes say odd 
things.” 8 It was about this time, when Prince Henry was 
nine years old, that Erasmus visited England aftd paid his 

X A Dialogue both pleasant and pietifull, 15.64. 

2 The Poetical Works of John Skelton , edited by Rev. Alexander Dyce, 1843. 



famous tribute to Skelton as “the one light and glory of 
British letters” -a tribute provoked, not by Skelton’s 
English poems, for Erasmus’ knowledge of English was 
slight, but by his Latin verses and translations of the classics* 
Further evidence of his reputation as a classical scholar is 
afforded at this time by Caxton’s preface to The Boke of 
Eneydos compyled by Vyrgyle (1490), which contains the 
invocation to 

Maister John Skelton late created poet laureate in the University 
of Oxenford, to oversee and correct this said book, and to address 
and expound, whereas shall be found fault, to them that shall require 
it. For him I know sufficient to expound and English every 
difficulty that is therein. F or he hath translated the Epistles of Tully 
and the Book of Diodorous Sicuilus, and divers other works out of 
Latin into English, not in rude and old language, but in polished and 
ornate terms craftily, as he hath read Virgil, Ovid, Tully, and all the 
other noble poets and orators to me unknowent And also he hath 
read the Nine Muses and understands their musical sciences. * , *. 
I suppose he hath drunken of Elicon’s Well. 

There is at least one example in the following pages of these 
“polished and ornate terms,” in the prose passages of the 
Replication , which reminds us of nothing so much as the 
manner of Robert Greene’s euphuistic novels, though with 
the mythological natural history left out. But it should be 
explained here that the title poet laureate did not originally 
signify the office of poet laureate as we know it to-day, but it 
was used to designate a degree in grammar, including 
rhetoric and versification, taken at the university, when the 
graduate was presented with a wreath of laurel. In 1493, 
however, Skelton was granted the distinction of wearing a 
white and green dress with the name Calliope embroidered 
upon it, and it may have been about this time, or even later, 
that he became honorary poet laureate, or king’s orator, but 
no record has ever been discovered of his having enjoyed an 



annual salary from the Crown in consequence of such an 
office. So that, although we still continue to give Skelton his 
full title, we do so chiefly in complaisance to the poet’s memory, 
seeing that during his lifetime he so much insisted upon it. 

During his pupil’s minority, Skelton must have resided 
at Court, and as a Court official he would have been in 
personal contact with Thomas Wolsey, when the latter was 
chaplain to Henry VII, and also well-known to the poet 
Stephen Hawes, then Groom of the Chamber. It may 
possibly have been some slight put upon him by Wolsey at 
that time which planted the seed of that lifelong rancour that, 
in later years, brought forth such bitter fruit. Although 
Churchyard tells us that he was “seldom out of prince’s 
grace,” 1 knowing his opinion of Courts and courtiers, as 
exemplified in The Bouge of Court and Magnificence , we 
cannot suppose that he was altogether popular there. Add to 
this Churchyard’s report that “his speech was as he wrate,” 
and we begin to understand something of his contemporaries’ 
antagonism. In 1498, Skelton took holy orders, “but,” says 
Dyce, “how soon after that he became rector of Diss in 
Norfolk, and what portion of his life he spent there in the 
excercise of his duties, cannot be ascertained.” 2 We know 
that he was living there in 1504 and 15 1 1, as he witnessed 
several wills there in those years; also, from the internal 
evidence of his poems, he seems to have been there in 1 506, 
1507, and 1513; and in the year of his death he was still 
nominally rector of Diss, although at that time he had been 
absent from his rectory for at least six years. 

It has been supposed that this exile of a well-known 
scholar and courtier to an obscure Norfolk village was the 
result of rivals’ machinations against him. This may be so, 
only we cannot ascertain how far this appointment was an 

1 Eulogy prefixed to Marsh’s edition of Skelton’s Tithy t Pleasant, and Profitable 
Works , 1568. 

2 Ibid. 


exile;- in any case, the exile may have been quite voluntary. 
Skelton may have used his rectory as a place of refuge while 
the periodic epidemics of the plague raged in the capital; or 
he may have gone there to write undisturbed; he may even 
have gone there as a refuge from the Court itself. We know, 
at any rate, that he lived there with his wife, keeping her 
ostensibly as a mistress, marriage in a priest being a capital 
crime. But whether it was necessary for a priest to retire 
into the country before he could keep a mistress in those days, 
we can, of course, only conjecture - although it may have 
been safer for them to marry in the country than in London. 
Skelton tells us in Colin Clout that the priests 

Could not keep their wives 

From them for their lives! 

and Wolsey, when his power became full-blown, was quite 
notorious in this respect. In fact, he “spareth neither maid 
nor wife,” Skelton tells us, suggesting sarcastically that 
no doubt he has a special bull from the Pope exempting him 
from chastity, as he had exempting him (on account of a weak 
digestion, which Skelton does not mention) from the more 
rigorous Lenten fasts. Nevertheless, Skelton was called to 
account and temporally suspended from his benefice for his 
own irregularities by his diocesan, the “impure and bloody- 
minded ” 1 Bishop Nix, largely, it is said, at the instigation of 
the Dominican friars. 

There is an amusing account of this episode in the apocry- 
phal Merrie Tales of Skelton , some of which is worth quoting, 
as it must contain at least an element of truth and would seem 
to be fairly typical of the poet’s fearlessness of mind and 
peculiar tyge of wit. The next Sunday, after taking his 
congregation to task pretty severely for “complaining of me 
to the bishop that I do keep a fair wench in my house,” he 
x Dyce, ibid. 



goes on to address his wife, whom he had apparently brought 
into church for this purpose: 

“Thou wife,” said Skelton, “that hast my child, be not afraid, 
bring me hither my child to me”: the which was done. And he, 
showing his child naked to all the parish, said, “How say you 
neighbours all? - is not this child as fair as is the best of all yours? 
It hath nose, eyes, hands, and feet, as well as any of yours: it is not like 
a pig, nor a calf, nor like no fowl nor no monstrous beast. If I had,” 
said Skelton, “brought forth this child without arms or legs, or that it 
were deformed, being a monstrous thing, I would never have 
blamed you to have complained to the bishop of me: but to complain 
without a cause, I say, as I said before in my anthem, vosestis, you be, 
and have been, and will -and shall be knaves, to complain of me 
without a cause reasonable!” 

One feels somehow that this story ought to be true, as it was 
such behaviour that won for Skelton the hearts of the people 
and made his name, like Rabelais’, a legend for many a day 
to come. We have the evidence of Wood that, at Diss, 
Skelton was “esteemed more fit for the stage than the pew or 
pulpit ” 1 — an estimate that surely must have come out of 
behaviour similar to that which formed the basis of the 
Merrie Tales . 

But if he won the hearts of the people by what Warton 
calls his “ludicrous disposition,” 2 he lost the esteem of the more 
“respectable” men of his time. Bluff King Hal, we may 
suppose, would have been one of the first to appreciate such a 
jest, especially as we know the poems Against Garnesche , and 
even possibly Elinor Rumming , to have been composed for his 
amusement. j 

As Skelton grew older the antagonism of his rival men oH 
letters — an antagonism that he seems to have done his best to l 
arouse — by souring his temper, doubtless added venom to the 
tartness of his satire. Above all, his hatred of Wolsey 

x Ath. Oxon ed. Bliss. 2 History of English Poetry (1774-81). 



increased to such an extent that he was the only man in 
England who dared to attack the great cardinal at the height 
of his power. The attack is at first veiled, as in Magnificence ; 
in Speak , Parrot , Wolsey’s rule is indicated as one of the most 
flagrant abuses of the age \ in Colin Clout the tone is more 
general, but in Why Come Ye Not to Court ? the full battery of 
his wrath is directed solely against the cardinal. 

The anger aroused by such a piece as Colin Clout must have 
owed a great deal to the metre in which it was written. It 
was a metre that no “worthy clerk” would have used 3 and to 
set high Church matters, questions of the weightiest gravity, 
jigging to this syncopated jazz-time was doubtless considered 
scandalous. Charges similar to those contained in Colin Clout 
were, of course, common enough: one might have found 
them, though much less pungently expressed, in Barclay’s 
work, and Colet himself preached at Convocation against 
many such abuses. But then Barclay wrote either in courtly 
rhyme-royal stanzas or dignified couplets, and as for Colet, 
the clergy were obliged to swallow strong words from the 
dean of St. Paul’s. Moreover, they knew that neither the 
nobles nor the people would read Barclay, but Skelton’s 
ragged rhymes did not need to be read to take their effect - 
the ballad-singers set them ringing all over the country. 

They were flung abroad at random like floating seeds upon a gusty 
day [a contemporary writes], and settled and struck where they 
listed. Many of them were never committed to print, but learned 
by heart by hundreds, repeated in the roadside alehouse or at the 
market-cross on fair-days, when dealer and customer left booth and 
stall vacant to push into the crowd hedging round the itinerant 
ballad-singer. * 

Disseminated thus, we can form some idea of their prob- 
able effect upon a crowd already incensed against the Church 

Quoted in article by James Hooper in Gentleman’s Magazine, September, 
1897. The passage is apparently anonymous. 



and prepared to believe anything to its discredit. We can see, 
too, how dangerous such rhymes were even for Wolsey, 
watched as he was with increasing dislike and suspicion 
throughout the country. The surprising thing is that he 
tolerated Skelton so long ; and, knowing his elaborate 
system of espionage, we can only wonder at this literary 
David slinging his stones at the political giant, the man who 
was, after all, for a good many years the virtual ruler of 
England. Wolsey’s contempt for criticism is well known; 
he may have considered Skelton beneath his notice. Or it 
may be that Skelton relied upon the king’s protection — for no 
patron, however noble, could afford to oppose the cardinal 
openly. The example of the Duke of Buckingham was 
evidence of the fate awaiting those who became too bold. 
But Skelton was forced to take sanctuary at Westminster in 
1 523, after the composition and circulation of Why Come Te 
Not to Court ? Three years later we find the Replication 
dedicated to Wolsey in the most fulsome terms of flattery. 
But this may not prove anything, as these dedications were 
sometimes written and appended to books by their printers. 
At any rate, The Garland of Laurel^ printed in 1523, has its 
respectful envoy to “ The Great Cardinal, the most honour- 
able legate a latere ,” and the vague and misleading mention of 
Colin Clout and “the popinjay” (i.e. Speak , Parrot ) among his 
works suggests that he was still hoping to put Wolsey off the 
scent. If the English verses after the Latin envoy really 
belong to this poem, he confesses to living “Tween hope and 
dread,” and in the Latin envoy itself he requests Wolsey “to 
be mindful to petition for the prebend which he promised to 
entrust to me some day.” It is all very mysterious. It is 
almost as though he thought Wolsey unaware of his attacks. 

The attacks themselves, of course, are in* many ways 
unfair, for, although the actual charges are mostly justified, 
they only give one side of the truth. Skelton says nothing of 
Wolsey’s great powers as a statesman — if, indeed, he was 



capable of judging them; he grossly underrates his learning; 
and the frequent mentions of his “base origin” are snobbish, 
although they make an excellent foil to the cardinal’s subse- 
quent overbearing behaviour in the Star Chamber and else- 
where, with which Skelton does not fail to charge him. 
Undoubtedly there was a good deal of the parvenu in 
Wolsey-but, if a man can raise himself by his own 
abilities, the more credit to him ! As for his humbling of the 
great nobles whose fathers and grandfathers had, for their 
personal feuds, for a century preceding turned England into 
a field of blood, the king, inwardly at any rate, must have 
been grateful. But, with all his services to his country, 
Wolsey was an unpopular Minister. It was at his door that 
Henry’s taxes were laid; his foreign policy was watched 
throughout the land with suspicion, the story going about at 
one time that he was actually in the pay of France; and, 
generally, he was regarded as an impudent and overweening 
busybody, taking on more than he could accomplish, bungling 
everything, and wasting the country’s money on futile 
schemes abroad and maintaining himself at home in wanton 
luxury. Fantastic as some of these notions seem to us to-day, 
that they were prevalent in his time we have Skelton’s poems 
as evidence, and although Skelton’s own personal grievances 
against his enemy helped to paint the picture blacker than it 
seemed to others, there can be little doubt that these poems 
reflect much of the attitude of the country at large. 

We have still to consider Skelton’s attitude to those problems 
of his day that he was more fitted to judge. He has been 
called one of the most sincere reformers of his time, and it has 
been claimed for him that he was superior to the prejudices 
of his age . 1 

Reformer he certainly was, but not, of course, in the sense 
of the word as it was understood at the Reformation. He was 
not, that is, a reformer like his great contemporary Hugh 

1 R. Hughes, Poems of John Skelton . 



Latimer, or even like. Bilney, whom he attacks in the 
Replication — both of whom were subsequently burnt for their 
zeal. Skelton’s reforming zeal, fortunately for him, kept well 
on this side of heresy. It is to be noticed, too, that his work 
contains no ac ual suggestions for reform, and it would have 
been interesting to see what side he would have taken, had 
he lived, in the Reformation. He might, indeed, have been 
severely shocked at the attitude taken up by his old pupil. 
But, in his poems, Skelton contents himself with attacking 
existing abuses. It would seem that he was too full of wrath 
and bitterness to do much else, although his peculiar turn of 
mind sometimes gave even his anger a comical look. There 
is no suspicion, at any rate, that he considered the system 
itself at fault: he would reform abuses within the system 
without altering the system itself. In these matters he was 
quite orthodox - the Replication makes that clear enough - 
while his savage exultance over the Scottish defeat at Flodden 
is sufficient to show that, for all his culture, he still had a good 
deal of the unredeemed barbarian in him. In fact, the truth 
is that, like other figures of the Middle Ages, he was a 
combination of savage cruelty, in questions of religious and 
national prejudice, and of exquisite tenderness, when his 
personal emotions were touched. As poet and priest he was 
both original and conservative, and, like the age he lived in, 
a conflicting mixture of antiquated medievalism and the 
new spirit of humanism - yet, in spite of himself, by his 
writings he helped to precipitate the greatest reform that the 
Church in England had yet known. In scholastic matters, 
again, he was apparently conservative, and, notwithstanding 
that he himself, by his translation of Latin classics and his new 
English grammar, had contributed to the advancement of 
learning and the regeneration of the language, Jie regarded 
the increasing study of Greek at the universities with dislike 
and suspicion. His views on this subj ect are unmistakably set 
forth in Speak , Parrot Everywhere he finds confusion; in 



the Church, in the State, and in the schools. But, actually 
although he did not recognise it, this was an age of transition: 
the old order was rapidly changing, ideas and systems were in 
a state of flux, and Skelton himself, with his unrest, his 
satire, his critical sense, was a typical figure of the age. And 
it is this quality, perhaps, that make him in some ways 
peculiarly sympathetic to us who are to-day also on the verge 
of a new era. 

It has been thought strange that none of the names of the 
Humanists appear in Skelton’s surviving work: there is no 
mention of either More, or Colet, or Linacre, or Grocyn. 
All we know is that he quarrelled with Lily, the grammarian, 
whose attitude to him may have set the example for the rest 
of the Oxford group. Lily’s reply to the usual vituperative 
verses written about him by Skelton, as translated by F uller 
in his W orthies , in substance was: 

With face so bold and teeth so sharp 
Of viper’s venom, why dost thou carp? . . > 

Skelton, thou art, let all men know it, 

Neither learned nor a poet. 

And, according to the new standards of learning and poetry, 
this was partially true. The great bond that united all these 
men was their love of Greek, and it was precisely the study 
of Greek to which Skelton most objected, as being detrimental 
to the old scholastic curriculum. (Incidentally, it has been 
pointed out that the “Skeltonic” itself may be considered as 
an adaptation in English of a verse-form quite commonly 
used by the medieval Latinists. 1 ) But, while Skelton 
showed himself capable of writing Latin verse in imitation 
of classical models, verse which even Warton called “elegant” 
(see, for example, the elegaics on Henry VII in the 
Appendix), his bias was undoubtedly towards the old accentual 

1 J. M. Berdan, Early Tudor Poetry. 



Latin of the Middle Ages — a mode of writing that a man like 
Lily considered barbarous. This kind of thing, indeed, 
would scarcely have recommended itself to the Humanists: 

Dic y inmice crucis Chris fi, 

Ubi didicisti 
Facers hoCy 
Domine Dawcock? 

- ( Ware the Hawk) 

But then, English humanism had little influence upon 
Skelton, except that he reacted against it — in any case it did 
little more than pave the way for future developments in 
poetry — and he was born too late and was too conservative 
in temper to be much affected by it. Nevertheless, his work, 
although full of such “monkish” Latin tags as that quoted 
above, shows a wide acquaintance with classical authors, and 
he frequently compares himself as a satirist to Juvenal and 
Martial. In The Garland of Laurel he goes even further and 
tells the reader to regard him as the “British Catullus” - 

Say: Skelton was your Adonis; 

Say: Skelton was your Homer! 

Doubtless, anticipating the effect of such claims on his Oxford 
rivals, he added that he is “not sorry to bear with dogs’ mad- 
ness, for even great Virgil bore the brunt of similar threats, 
and even Ovid’s Muse was not exempt.” But such writing 
was not calculated to make him popular among other men of 
learning. And, although to-day we can afford to smile at his 
claims, since they appear too fantastic to be taken seriously — 
if, indeed, they were ever seriously intended — it must be 
remembered that in his own day, except for Chaucer, Gower, 
and Lydgate (who are represented in The Garland of Laurel 
as honouring him, although he modestly assures them that 
“ye have me far passing my merits extolled”), he had no other 



outstanding English models with which to compare himself. 
If all the poetry of the last four hundred years was unknown 
to us, Skelton would appear as a far more imposing figure than 
he does at present. Obvious as such a statement may be, that 
was the situation in literature when he wrote. 

Skelton’s chief antagonist, as far as we know, was 
Alexander Barclay. Unfortunately his Contra Skeltonum has 
disappeared, as it might have thrown some light on our poet’s 
life. We have, at any rate, the Fourth Eclogue , which con- 
tains a significant passage: , 

And to what vices that princes most intend, 

Those dare these fools solemnise and commend. 

Then is he decked as Poet Laureate, 

When stinking Thais made him her graduate. 

- which would seem to support the theory that, in Skelton’s 
case, the laureateship was a royal rather than an academic 
honour. And at the end of The Ship of Fools there is the 
contemptuous reference to Philip Sparrow - which, incident- 
ally, proves this poem to have been written before 1508 — 

It longeth not to my art and cunning 
For Philip Sparrow the Dirige to sing. 

But apparently there were others also who took exception to 
this elegy on the dead sparrow - others that, as Skelton tells 
us in The Garland of Laurel , “grudge thereat with frowning 
countenance.” To whom he lightly makes reply: 

But what of that? hard it is to please all men; 

Who list to amend, let him set to his pen! 


But there is still another, as well as these mysterious critics, 
mentioned in the same poem, that “frowned on me full 
angerly and pale” -Robert Gaguin, the French historian. 



And, although we now have the long-lost Recule Against 
Gaguin — if, indeed, we have it all - we are not very much 
the wiser. But no doubt these cryptic reproaches refer to 
some discourtesy of Gaguin’s well known at the time, or to 
some personal grievance between the two men. There are 
the Garnesche poems as eloquent evidence of what Skelton 
could do in the way of personal abuse, once he was thoroughly 
roused,, although in this case the “flyting” would seem to be 
fundamentally good-humoured, having none of the concen- 
trated venom of the Wolsey satires. It is not unlikely, 
though, that the quarrel originated in offended vanity on both 
sides, and that the king fanned the flames of their tempers into 
a battle of wit for his own amusement. At any rate, the 
metaphors Skelton hurls at his adversary must even then have 
seemed too preposterous to be taken seriously, although the 
reflections on the knight’s amorous prowess may have struck 

Yet there are times when one begins to suspect that 
Skelton’s satire was not always quite what it seemed, for, 
even in the most serious passages, he will suddenly drop off 
the mask of moralist and begin clowning. And, even when 
he was most blowing his own trumpet, it may be that he was 
half laughing at himself and others the while. So that we 
cannot, any more than his contemporaries, always be too sure 
of his naivety. In one case at least - that is, in Colin Clout - 
we can see how much it suited him to play the simple- 
minded innocent. 

At all events, the hostility of rivals was compensated for 
by illustrious patronage. Early in life, Skelton was com- 
missioned by Henry Percy, fifth Earl of Northumberland - a 
lover of literature at a time when most other nobles could 
neither read nor write - to dedicate an elegy to the memory 
of the fourth earl, who was murdered in a popular rising in 
Yorkshire on April 28th, 1489. “At the contemplation of 
my Lady’s Grace” — i.e. at the command of the Countess of 



Richmond and Derby, Henry VIPs mother, on whose death 
he also wrote a Latin elegy - Skelton translated de Guille- 
ville’s Peregrinage de la Vie Humaine. The Countess of 
Surrey, too, must have been an admirer of his genius, for it 
is at her instigation that a garland of laurel is woven for him 
in the poem recording the event, while he was staying, 
possibly as a member of her train, at Sheriff- Hutton Castle in 
Yorkshire, It has been thought that, at one time, Skelton 
was tutor to young Henry Howard, although that poet’s 
work as it has come down to us shows little enough of his 

The last six years of Skelton’s life were passed in sanctuary 
at Westminster, and he died there on June 2 1st, 1 529. It is 
said that on his death-bed he confessed to having secretly 
married the woman by whom he left several children. But 
the only relic left us of those dim days is an entry in the 
churchwardens’ accounts of St. Margaret’s which reads: 

1529. Item. Of Mr. Skelton for viii. tapers o /. 2 s. Sd. 

He was buried without ceremony in the chancel of a neigh- 
bouring church, and this inscription placed over his grave: 

Joannes Skeltonus , vates Pierius , hie situs est. 


j It was John Skelton’s misfortune to live through what is 
, generally admitted to be the dullest age of our literature. 
Born into the last half of the fifteenth century, he inherited 
an already sterile medieval tradition, and at the time of his 
death the drj£ bones of English poetry had still to be revived 
.by the new breath of the Renaissance. 

Yet there are occasional lyrics and ballads of this time, 
such as the great Carols The Nut Brown Maid , and Quia 



Amore Langueo , that survive as some of the most incontestably 
perfect things in the English language. ^And all through the 
fifteenth century, the spirit of poetry lived on in quiet 
monastery cells, isolated, while the rest of the land was given 
over to the din and vaunting chivalry of civil war. But,* 
whenever it came in contact with the Court, poetry was 
immediately debased. Thus it is to his brief Court-life that' 
Lydgate owed much of his empty sententiousness, and in his 
interminable verses we see the vanity of the world intermixed' 
and diluted with a natural propensity to dry moralising — both 
of these qualities being absent from the lovely anonymous 
poems in which the mild sweetness of certain truly religious 
minds of that unhappy time lives on. But Skelton had his' 
share of both the worst qualities of the Court poets and the/ 
best of the anonymous writers. I ndeed , had it not been for his 
fiery originality, that in defiance of tradition adopted a mean, 
form and forged it into a living and personal language, his 
scholastic training and literary inheritance would have been* 
sufficient to bury the poet in him beyond all hope of resurrec- 
tion. But, as it is, he stands out as a unique figure in the 
history of English poetry, a sudden and strange illumination 
between the dreary Lydgatian wastes, when the manner of 
Chaucer was unimaginatively imitated without the least 
spark of his vital genius, and the fresh spring of Wyatt ancj, 

To the chief writers of Skelton’s day, however, Lydgate*' 
was still the supreme model, and, emulating his “polished 
eloquence,” men like Hawes and Barclay prepared for them-f 
selves a respectable oblivion. It is, one might almost say,' 
largely Skelton’s energetic “bad taste” that has kept his name 
alive where others have been forgotten. But the price he hast 
paid for this survival is the notoriousness of few poems \ 
which, while they perpetuated his name, also served to befoul* 
his reputation. Indeed, the drab decency of his contemporary ( 
rivals could scarcely have wished for a better revenge ! 



Since his own age, the body of Skelton’s work has been 
ignored, and he has been read hastily and in scraps for the sake 
of a few scabrous passages for which, after enjoying their 
little snigger, his readers have condemned him. That such 
i was the attitude of, at any rate, the scholastic readers in the 
eighteenth century we learn from Pope’s couplet: 

Chaucer’s worst ribaldry is learned by rote, 

And beastly Skelton Heads of Houses quote. 

But as in the Age of Good Sense Chaucer was little more 
admired than Skelton, Warton’s failure to understand him 
was perhaps a foregone conclusion. For, when Warton 
wrote his History of English Poetry , literary ideals had not 
after all, changed very greatly since Pope wrote The Dunciad 
fifty years earlier: and, although he did good work in recalling 
attention to the earlier poets, Warton showed his lack of 
imagination by preferring the conventional imitators of 
^Lydgate to Skelton. But that was only to be expected in an 
age when everything that did not conform to “classical” 
smoothness and regularity was considered barbaric. The 
fresh morning voice that hails us from his work, as of a busy 
; workman delighting in his craft, the mild purity of his lyrics, 

’ the delicate fancy, the irony by turns whimsical and bitter, the 
.deep religious feeling of the poems in which he carried on the 
.tradition of the morality and miracle plays, and, above all, his 
outstanding vigour and originality — all this was lost to 
Thomas Warton and critics like him, so that all they have to 
'give us is a few stuffy sentiments of scholarly prudishness. 
“It is in vain,” writes Warton - “it is in vain to apologise for 
{ the coarseness, obscenity, and scurrility of Skelton by saying 
y that his poejry is tinctured with the manners of his age. 

Skelton would have been a writer without decorum in any 
* period.” Yes, it is quite in vain, and for us, not only in vain, 
but hypocritical. And let it be admitted, also, that it is to such 



“writers without decorum” that we owe some of our greatest ' 
debts ofgratitude: for it is they who, by transgressing the nar-, 
row laws both of ‘decency’ and form, bring new vitality into*, 
literature and liberate the spirit of poetry from the library and* 
the lecture-room. But taste has changed vastly since Warton 
wrote j it has changed vastly since Victorian and Edwardian) 
critics wrote; it has changed so greatly, in fact, that our own 
age may bring down upon itself the virtuous censure of future 
Wartons. "feut, however that may be, what is of interest 
here is that to-day we are able to enjoy Skelton, just as we 
are able to enjoy Rabelais, without troubling about the 
principles of decorum that perverted our ancestors’ judge- 
ment. We can see, for example, how sadly lacking in a sense 
of humour these critics must have been if they could not 
appreciate the topsy-turvy brilliance of a poem like Elinor y 

But with the Romantic Revival at the beginning of the 
next century the tide began to turn. Coleridge gave his 
opinion that “old Skelton’s Philip Sparrow ” was “an exquisite 
and original poem.” Wordsworth seconded him with the 
more reserved statement that Skelton was “a writer deserving 
of far greater attention than his works had hitherto received.” 
Southey, more enthusiastically, wrote in the Quarterly Review 
for September 1814 that Skelton was “one of the most extra- 
ordinary writers of any age or country.” In 1843 appeared 
Dyce’s scholarly edition of the poetical works -an edition 
upon which all future editions of the poet would inevitably 
have to be based. But there were no future editions — no 
complete editions, that is, although small selections appeared 
in 1902 and recently in 1924 - and Dyce himself offered his 
volumes with evident trepidation to “the very limited class 
of readers for which they are intended.” jSince Dyce, 
critics have at least paid Skelton lip service, although they 
have not encouraged anyone to read him. One reason for 
this neglect is that Dyce’s edition has been so long out of 



print that it is only known to scholars. Also, on account of 
the old spelling of his poems, which until now has never been 
removed, and the unduly stressed obscurity of these, Skelton 
is generally regarded as an old and difficult poet. It is true 
that there still remain obscure passages in his work, although 
the greater part of it, to an intelligent reader, is as clear as 
daylight. But it is well to remember that the obscurity of 
certain parts of Speak , Parrot , for instance, was intentional, 
as at the time Skelton feared to make his meaning too plain; 
although to informed contemporaries, no doubt, it was much 
easier than it is for us, when many references are lost. But 
even this poem, hitherto regarded as practically unintelligible, 
seems now to have yielded up a great part of its secret to the 
ingenious investigations of Professor Berdan of Yale Uni- 
versity. By finding a probable clue to the dating of the 
piece (see page 289 note ), Professor Berdan has made it 
possible to interpret the cryptic utterances of the bird in the 
light of the history of the years they are now seen in all 
probability to cover. All the same, his interpretation cannot 
be accepted as in any way final, although with the meagre 
evidence in our possession it is certainly very feasible, and 
brings partial meaning into a piece that is usually considered 
fantastic jibberish. 

If the eighteenth century was hampered, by its classic 
notions of decorum, from appreciating Skelton, and the 
nineteenth embarrassed by moral considerations, and the age 
that grew into being with the advance of the sixteenth 
century, its head slightly turned by the new discoveries, 
literary and geographical, found itself despising anything that 
savoured of the medieval, our own age, with its poetic 
experiment, has witnessed a revival of interest in this man 
who is now seen to be one of the most versatile metrists in the , 
language. Certainly no more effective polemical measure — j 
unless we except the heroic couplet - has been used than the) 
lash of Colin Clout . Nor, in its own way, has the richly 




humorous syncopation of Elinor Rumming ever been sur- 
passed. And Philip Sparrow is evidence of what delicate 
music could, upon occasion, be evoked from the same measure 
apparently so rough and intractable In these poems, Skelton 
stands out as completely original. Here there is no one like 
him in all our literature. If Elinor Rumming , in its harsh | 
angularity, is like a cubist painting, as Mr. Richard Hughes! 
suggests, Philip Sparrow is like a piece of music for the harp- 1 
sichord, with its bird-like whimsicality and light elegaic 
modulations. The delightfully ironical quotation of the Mass 
for the Dead is itself a stroke of genius. As for Skelton’s 
mastery of the conventional forms of the day, no one since 
Chaucer has used the rhyme-royal with such variety and 
animation as he in the Bouge of Court. It is a far cry from this 
poem, with its vivid and humorous characterisation, to the 
lifeless and everlasting allegories of his contemporaries and 
immediate forebears. But in Speak 3 Parrot he makes the 
form, his own: the poet himself speaks with the bird, and we 
feel the pathos of a sensitive and keenly intelligent thing 
forced to assume the role of clown and charlatan — but yet, 
being a professed fool, granted liberty to speak his mind. 
“For truth in parable ye wantonly pronounce.” But, he 
tells us, an it be well sought, under that doth rest matter 
more precious than jewels. Some of the precious matter 
certainly needs finding, although anyone can enjoy the 
fresh and ingenious skill of the opening stanzas. Here is the 
parrot looking at us with his “beak bent and little wanton 
eye,” reeling to and fro on his perch and punctuating his 
biting remarks with ironical jibberish and bursts of idiot 
laughter. In this poem there is a peculiar atmosphere that 
one only finds in Skelton. The poem is, he tells us, a mirror 
that seems transparent, or like a looking-glass^ in a riddle. 
Not a very illuminating remark, perhaps, but conveying just 
that combination of queer clarity, deeper meaning behind 
appearances, and reflected inference that we feel dimly as we 



read. It is all quaint and witty and very characteristic. Tfa 
Garland of Lauref otherwise a rather stilted and uninspired 
poem, except that it is of interest to us as Skelton’s self-staged 
apotheosis, contains some really exquisite love-sonnets in the 
comparatively well-known lines to Margery Wentworth 
and Margaret Hussey. The conventional minor pieces to 
various ladies, such as the poem beginning “The ancient 
acquaintance, madam, between us twain,” and the North- 
umberland elegy, with their stilted imagery and empty 
sententiousness, have all the worst faults of the compli- 
mentary verses of that date. Unfortunately, the other elegy, 
and by far the best of the two, that On the Death of Edward 
IF \ is now thought by some critics (see Brie and Koebling) 
not to be his at all. But, in default of any positive evidence to 
the contrary, it has been included in this edition. Other 
minor poems that deserve individual mention are: Upon a 
Dead Man's Head - where the movement of the verse has a 
certain dry finality perfectly suited to the theme - the deeply 
felt Woefully Arrayed , the three Prayers to the Trinity — the 
use of rhyming polysyllables here giving the effect of 
grandeur — the poems Against Garnesche — with their knock- 
about vituperative humour — the vigorous and indignant 
Ware the Hawk , and, of course, the madrigal Mannerly 
Margery and the perfectly delightful Lullay> Lullay , Like a 
Child , which are both sufficient to show Skelton’s power as a 
writer of really good popular songs that belong to more 
cheerful and full-blooded days than our own. 

As for Magnificence^ his one surviving play, it is noty 
perhaps, generally recognised that Skelton was the first 
professional man of letters to adopt the drama as a literary 
form. There had, of course, been numerous morality and 
miracle plays before his time, but these were anonymous and 
confined to ecclesiastical subjects, their purpose being either 
merely to illustrate Bible-stories or to show that the wage/s 
of sin is death. Skelton, however, introduces a secular 



subject with his “interlude,” and, although his purpose is 
distinctly moral, his means are satirical and, as Dr. Ramsay 
| points out in his edition of the play, 1 he is chiefly concerned 
' with showing that the wages of imprudent spending, through 
certain unnamed evil advisers, will be, for a certain unnamed 
rich prince, adversity and poverty. The case at issue is not 
} so much universal as particular - although, of course, it can 
,be interpreted universally — and the play contains much 
indirect satire of Wolsey’s influence on the young Henry 
VIII. Moreover, compared with the earlier moralities, 
Skelton’s interlude is quite elaborate in the design of its 
metrical details. The principal verse employed, however, is 
the rugged and heavy native long line of four stresses with a 
caesura after the second stress, dividing the line, like Anglo- 
Saxon verse, into two rhythmic halves of practically equiva- 
lent weight. Rut the metre is, like the leit-motif in music, to 
a large extent varied, for each character and each scene has its 
appropriate verse-measure. Thus the courtly rhyme-royal 
stanza is employed for the graver and more dignified passages 
and the lighter, swifter couplet for scenes in which the 
influence of Fancy and Folly predominate. Again, in the 
scenes of rapid dialogue between the “Vices,” the irregular 
couplet is used, the metre being intentionally loose and lightly 
marked to suggest that, while these characters are plotting a 
common villany, their individual characters are indistinguish- 
able, one vice covering them all. In this way the metrical 
variations are quite subtly characteristic, and as the Vices are 
left alone “in the place” their monologues vary in metre, 
from Courtly Abusion’s account of his more aristocratic sins, 
appropriately cast in the half-line rhyme-royal, and frantic 
Fancy’s syncopated measures - strangely preluding our 
modern jazz -to Crafty Conveyance’s heavily accented 
rhyme-royal stanzas, as being characteristic of one of the 
“heavy” villains of the piece. We find, too, that, as the 

VEarly English Text Society. 1908. 



drama approaches its climax with Magnificence’s overthrow 
the metre of the scenes as a whole becomes more rapid and 
ragged, until it culminates at the final entrance of Folly, who 
sets the hero’s brain spinning on the very brink of disaster. 
Then, with the entrance of grim Adversity, there is a sudden 
change to the heavily accented four-beat line. These final 
scenes are by far the most moving in the play. It is as though 
Skelton himself was as well acquainted with his own more 
dreadful characters as with the lighter courtiers upon whom 
he pours out the full venom of his scorn. 

If Magnificence reflects much of the philosophy of 
Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff. j as Dr. Ramsay seeks to prove, 
The Bouge of Court is still more influenced by that work as 
Skelton was familiar with it in Barclay’s version, The Ship of 
Fools , published in 1509. Yet, in form at any rate, The 
Bouge of Court - the most logically constructed of his poems - 
is a typical fifteenth-century allegory. It has the same 
astrological introduction, the insistence upon the necessity of 
“covert terms,” and the usual assumption of modesty: the 
poet then falls asleep and his dream becomes the substance of 
the poem: he wakes up at a critical moment in the action 
and writes his “little book,” for which he makes a conventional 
apology. Such is the form of Hawes’ Example of Virtue and 
Pastime of Pleasure, 

The difference is that Skelton fills the conventional frame- 
’work with life and humour, though his allegorical figures 
are a satire on Court life in general. But then directness, 
vitality, and honesty of sentiment are Skelton’s most obvious 
.qualities, and it is these that have kept much of his work as 
Jfresh and alive to-day as when it was first written. 

No metre could be more lively and forcible than the so- 
called “Skelfpnic.” Here are no literary graces, to be sure, 
but the stuff of life, the bare facts driven home with the curt- 
ness born of stringent necessity. But, once started, his 
bubbling volubility went to his head, and he found it very 



difficult to stop. Over and over again he repeats the same 
things, devoid of all logical form and construction — although 
these pieces may be said to have a certain concentric move- 
ment of their own — round and round the same point he 
goes, always coming back to where he started from. But 
doubtless this apparently endless flow of words, this invincible 
facility in rhyme was one reason for his popularity with the 
unlettered public of his day, for it is thus, bursting out into 
spontaneous rhyme, that we find him, along with Will 
Summers, in the chapbook Long Meg of Westminster . 
Nevertheless his was no relaxed verbosity. Although he 
sometimes follows the vagaries of his rhymes, his grip of his 
subject never slackens: he beat sparks from his verse that lit 
upon the tonsures of the clergy and stung them. He managed 
his measure with a skill that no one else has ever been able to 
pick up again, for in other hands it degenerates into hopeless 
monotony . 1 And, although with him it goes at breathless 
speed, he is always ready with some ingenious rhythmic 
variation. It can scuttle and tumble headlong with the ale- 
wives of Leatherhead, “a sort of foul drabs” who, 

With titters and tatters, 

Bring dishes and platters. 

With all their might running 
To Elinor Rumming 
, To have of her tunning. 

It can be plaintively elegaic: 

When I remember again 
How my Philip was slain, 

Never half the pain 
Was between you twain, 

Pyramus and Thisbe, a 

As then befell to me: 

J One might mention here, however, Robert Graves’ earlier poems (Poems, 1914- 
1926), where Skelton’s manner has been very successfully caught in snatches. 


I wept and I wailed, 

My tears down hailed, 

But nothing it availed 
To call Philip again, 

Whom Gib, our cat, hath slain. 

It can imitate the bird’s movements: 

When I remember it, 

How prettily it 'would sit 
Many times and oft 
Upon my finger aloft ... 

For it would come and go. 

And fly so to and fro; 

And on me it would leap 
When I was asleep 
And his feathers shake. 

It can be curt and epigrammatic: 

Lo, for to do shamefully 
He judgeth it no folly! 

But to write of his shame 
He saith we are to blame. 

What a frenzy is this - 
No shame to do amiss, 

And yet he is ashamed 
To be shamefully named! 

The astonishing facility of the rhyming in each case adds 
force and point to the passage. Such verse has a lean, athletic 
quality, relying for its effect, not upon imagery or the softer 
poetic graces, but upon a diction clear and direct, and the 
hitting power of its recurring rhymes and terse, staccato 

No satisfactory estimate of Skelton as a poet has yet been 
made. To-day, in some quarters, there is a tendency to make 
up for his neglect by going to the other extreme with 
extravagant praise. There is excuse for both attitudes, as 


Skelton is a particularly difficult writer to estimate. Forone 
thing, he has been more read about than actually read, and he 
has fallen into the hands of scholars and critics who know 
before they read him that he does not write poetry as it should 
be written, and whose chief criterion is to admire what has 
been already admired before, or into the hands of eccentrics 
who admire a thing simply because it has never been admired 
before. Also his reputation has scarcely recovered from the 
blight cast upon it by Pope and Warton. Otherwise, critics 
have been puzzled by a man who is a mixture of piety and 
ribaldry, of sensibility and savagery; they have been put out 
by the swift whimsicality of his mind, embarrassed in the 
presence of one who is, by turns, fiercely in earnest and 
laughing at his own earnestness. Neither can they see with 
him the comical side of ugliness and filth - their own minds 
not being sufficiently above such things to take them lightly. 
Thus for many he has remained “beastly Skelton.” And, all 
the while vexing their minds how to “place” him, they over- 
look those snatches of purest poetry with which he can at 
times enchant our minds — 

Ennewed your colour 
Is like the daisy flower 
After the April shower; 

Star of the morrow gray. 

Although no one would pretend that Skelton was a great 
poet, one hesitates to apply to him the epithet “minor.” One 
feels all the while that he worked at a disadvantage. He is 
frequently complaining of the rusty state of the language. 
He complains that 

Our natural tongue is rude. 

And hard to be ennewed 
With polished terms lusty: 

Our language is so rusty, 

So cankered, and so full 


Of frowards, and so dull, 

That if I would apply 
To write ornately, 

I wot not where to find 
Terms to serve my mind. 

Indeed, his difficulty could not be more plainly and simply 
expressed. However, he was wise enough not to attempt to 
“write ornately,” and confined himself to a plain vigorous 
style, often employing the most rudimentary metre he could 
think of, only too aware of the pitfalls of sententious prosiness 
or unconvincing grandiloquence that awaited the imitator of 
Lydgate. But, had Skelton lived in almost any other age 
than his own, it is fairly certain that, with a perfected instru- 
ment at his command, a regenerated language with a great 
tradition behind it, he would now occupy a high and respected 
place in poetry, and his wit, applied to more modern problems, 
would most likely have won him the position of a Swift, or 
perhaps even of a Shaw. As it is, he must be given the credit 
for introducing into poetry what, in his hands, amounted to a 
new* idiom, although it is only he who has ever been able to 
make it seem a natural and inevitable expression of thought 
and emotion, or to use it with just that delight in words and 
rhythmic adroitness that transmutes even what might at first 
sight appear a doggerel measure into poetry. And he is, 
'without exaggeration, the most considerable figure. in poetry 
^between Chaucer and Spenser, a lonely star shooting his fiery 
and erratic spears into the twilight-dawn before the risen sun 
of the Elizabethans. His poetry has the fascination of all 
fresh and spontaneous things. And, although he may weary 
us at times with the naive delight in his own ecstatic volu- 
bility, it is not long before he surprises our attention with some 
jquaint and* witty phrase, some bright epigram, and we read 
Jon, willingly caught in the clear unending chain of words. 
JJune 1931 Philip Henderson 


The present text has been founded on Dyce’s edition of 1 843, 
although in some places I have preferred manuscript 
readings — as given in Dyce’s footnotes — and have made 
certain slight emendations of my own as the sense seemed to 
require. But the main difficulty facing any editor of Skelton 
is the absence of the original manuscripts and the corrupt 
state of the early editions on which, apart from Dyce, we are 
forced to depend. And even Dyce, although he cleared away 
endless misprints and copyists’ errors, returning to the task 
through half a lifetime, left many obscure passages in his 
edition which have, at any rate, now been restored to 
intelligibility. In preparing my text I have also made use of 
Robert Lee Ramsay’s edition of Magnificence (published by 
the Oxford University Press, for the Early English Text 
Society, in 1908), adopting his method of dividing the play 
into stages and scenes and his punctuation of the opening 
lines. I have, therefore, to thank the Oxford University 
Press for giving me their permission to do this. I have also 
collated certain passages of my text with Mr. Richard 
Hughes’ edition of Skelton’s Poems (Heinemann, 1924)5 
and acknowledgements will be found in their proper place. 
Otherwise the punctuation and modernisation of the text is 
my own. 

As to the system of modernisation adopted, my aim has 
been to produce a fluency and lucidity rather than a pedantic- 
ally correct indication of every transposed stress and accented 
final e that may or may not have been pronounced in Skelton’s 
time. We know that in this respect Skelton worked under 
difficulties. Even as he wrote, the final accented c of 
Chaucer was rapidly falling into disuse, while pronunciation 

Bp xxxiii 


itself was undergoing a radical change. In cases, however, 
where the final e seems to have been lightly pronounced for 
the requirements of the metre it will be found dotted. But 
there is no doubt that Skelton used his metres freely, and, as 
with his contemporary, Hawes, we sometimes have what 
should properly be a regular five-stress line reading more 
easily as a four-stress — unless, of course, we pad it out with 
dotted e's. But, in any case, Skelton’s lines should not be 
read as iambics, even when they approximate to such smooth- 
ness, which is not often, for by attempting to read them in 
that way we shall turn what, in its own time, was fairly 
regular and artistic verse into wretched, halting stuff. The 
Skeltonic itself - in such poems as Philip Sparrow and Colin 
Clout - varies between a two- and a three-stress line, being in 
* reality the old native long line of four stresses broken in half 
and rhymed. 

The poems are arranged here more or less in chronological 
order, except that The Garland of Laurel, being a fitting coda 
to Skelton’s poetic achievement, has been placed at the end of 
the book, and the shorter pieces have been grouped together 
under three convenient headings, there being even less evi- 
dence of the date of their composition than in the case of the 
longer pieces. This being intended more as a popular edition 
of Skelton than a dish to set before scholars, variorum readings 
have been omitted, as also Skelton’s Latin marginal notes to 
Speak, Parrot , A Replication, and The Garland. The Latin 
poems themselves will be found in the Appendix, while the 
Latin portions of the English text have been rendered in 
footnotes as well as their often mutilated condition would 
allow. For valuable help in worrying out the more difficult 
passages I have to thank my uncle, Mr. C. G. Henderson. 
The odd n chapters from Henry Watson’s translation of 
Droyn’s French version of Locker’s Latin version of Brandt’s 
Narrenschiff y hitherto included among Skelton’s works by 
mistake (largely due to a reference in The Garland to a lost 


piece called The Nation of Foois y but which, as Brie suggests, 
might refer to the lines Upon a Comely Coistrown ), have now 
been removed. But two small pieces discovered by Brie 
among the manuscripts at Cambridge, and first printed by 
him in his Skelton- Studien, have been added. 


(No dates on editions unless stated . The bracketed figures are only 
conjectural .) 

Here begynneth a lytell treatyse named the bowge of courte. 
Enprynted at Westminster by me Wynkyn the Worde. 

Also another edition by the same printer. 

Here folowyth divers Balettys and dyties solacyous devisyd by 
Master Skelton, Laureat. (Without printer’s name, but evi- 
dently from the press of Pynson.) 

Skelton Laureate agaynste a comely Coystrowne that curyowsly 
chawntyd And curryshly cowntred, And madly in hys Musykks 
mokkyshly made, Against the ix. Musys of polytyke Poems and 
Poettys matryculat. (Pynson.) Contains also: Upon a Dead 
Man’s Head and Womanhood , Wanton , Te Want . 

A replycacion agaynst certayne yong scolers, abiured of late, 
etc. . . . Imprinyed by Richard Pynson, printer to the kynges 
most noble grace. 

A ryght delectable tratyse upon a goodly Garland or Chapelet of 
Lawrell, etc. . . . Inprynted by me Rycharde faukes dwelling in 
dura rent or els in Powlis chyrche yarde at the sygne of the 
A.B.C. The yere of our lorde, god M.CCCCC.XXLII. 

Magnyfycence. A goodly interlude and a mery devysed and made 
by mayster Skelton, poete laureate late deceasyd. (Rastell.) 

Also a reprint of Rastell’s edition, 1821, and E.E.T.S. edition, by 
Robert L. Ramsay, 1908. 

Here after foloweth the boke of Phyllyp Sparowe compyled by 
mayster Skelton, Poete Laureate. Prynted at London at the 
poultry by Rychard Kele. (15 50?) 

Also editions by Antony Kitson, Abraham Veale, John Walley, and 
John Wyght. 

Here after foloweth certaine bokes c5pyled by mayster SkeJtQ ? 
whose names here after shall appere:, 

Speake, Parot. 





The death of the noble Prynce, Kynge Edwarde the 


A treatyse of the Scottes. 

Ware the Hawke. 

The Tunnynge of Elynoure Rummyng. 

Imprynted at London, in Crede Lane, by John King and Thomas 
Marche. (1565?) 

Also an edition by Richard Lant, for Henry Tab. 

Here after followeth a lytell boke called Colyn Cloute compyled . . . 
etc. Imprinted at London by me Richarde Kele dwelling in the 
powltry at the long shop under saynt Myldredes chyrche. (1 $ 50?) 

Other editions by Wyghte, Veale, Kytson, and Thomas Godfray. 

Here after foloweth a lytell boke, which hath to name, Why come 
ye nat to courte, compiled . . . etc. . . . Richard Kele. (1550?) 

Other editions by Wyght, Kytson, Veale, John Wallye,and Robert 

Pithy pleasaunt and profitable workes of maister Skelton, Poete 
Laureate. Now collected and newly published. Anno 1568. 
Imprinted at London in Fletestreate, neare unto saint Dunstones 
churche by Thomas Marshe. 

Elynour Rummin: the famous ale-wife of England. Harlian 
Miscell., vol. i., 1746. Now singe we, as we were wont, etc., 
a black letter vol. of Christmas Carols - Bibliograph. Miscell. , 
Bliss, 1813. 

The Manner of the World now a dayes — Imprinted Copland 

Also in Old Ballads, Collier, 1840. 

Pithy Pleasaunt and profitable works of Maister Skelton, 1736. 
(A very inaccurate reprint of Marsh.) Edited by J. Bowie. 

Also a reprint of this in Chalmer’s English Poets , 1810. 

Select Poems of John Skelton, edited by E. Sandford, 1819. 

The Poetical Works of John Skelton, with Notes and Some Account 
of the Author and his writings. By the Rev. Alexander Dyce. 
Two vols., 1843 (standard edition.) 

The Poetical Works of John Skelton . . . principally according to 
the edition of A. Dyce. Three vols., Boston, Mass# 1856. 

The Earliest known printed English ballad. A ballade of the 
Scottysshe king, reproduced in facsimile with an . . . introduction 
by John Aston, 1882. 



Professor Arber’s modernised reprints of portions of Philip Sparrow 
and Why Come Te Not to Court P (discreetly cut to suit Victorian 
taste.) British Anthologies , 1901. 

A Selection from the Poetical Works of John Skelton (a reprint of 
portions of Dyce), by W. H. Williams, 1902. 

Poems by John Skelton (a selection), edited by Richard Hughes, 
1924. f 

John Skelton (Laureate), a selection and extracts, edited and 
modernised by Robert Graves, Augustan Books of English Poetry , 

19 27 * 

The Tunning of Elynour Rumming, with decorations by Pearl 
Binder, Fanfrolico Press, London, 1928. 

See also Merrie Tales of Shelton (a chapbook), 1564. 


Of the death of the noble prince, King Edwarde the forth. (In a 
volume belonging to Miss Currer in which Dyce found a new 

Upon the doulourus dethe and much lamentable chaunce of the 
most honourable Erie of Northumberland. MS. Reg. I, 8 D ii,, 
fol, 165, B.M. 

Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale. • Fairfax MS., Add. MSS. 
5465, fol. 109, B.M. 

Poems against Garnesche. MS. Harl. 367, fol. 101. 

Wofully araid. Fairfax MS., Add. MSS. 5465, fols. 76 and 86, 

Also manuscript copy in a very old hand on the fly-leaves of Boetius 
de Discip , Schol, etc., 1496 (Heber collection), which supplied 
Dyce with several new stanzas. 

I, liber, et propera. regem tu pronus adora, etc. MS. C.C.C. No. 
ccccxxxii. of Nasmith’s Catal,, p. 400 (vol. 1., 141). 

Salve plus decies quam sunt momenta dierum, etc., Add, MSS. 
4787, fol. 224 (vol. i., 177), B.M. 

Colyn Clou te. MS. Harl. 2252, fol. 147. 

Garlande of Lurell. MS. Cott. Vit. EX., fol. 200 — very imperfect. 

Speake, Parrot. MS. Harl. 2252, fol. 133 - from which Dyce got 
much new material. 



Diodorus Siculus translated into English by Skelton, poet-laureat 
[from the Latin version of Poggio, 1472]. MS. C.C.C. No. 
ccclvii of Nasmith’s GataL> p. 362. At Corpus Christi College, 

Tanner ( Biblioth ., p. 676, ed. 1748) mentions the following two 
pieces as extant in his day among the manuscripts of Lincoln 
Cathedral Library: 

Methodos Skeltonidis leaureati, sc. Praecepta quaedam 
moralia Henrico principi, postea Henr. viii. Dat. apud 
Eltham A.D. MDI. Principium deest. 

Carmen ad principem, quando insignitus erat ducis Ebor 
titulo. Pr. “Si quid habes, mea Musa.” 

Piece “Mistress Anne, I am your man.” MS. Trin. Coll., Cam., 
K. 347 (on fly-leaf.) 

The Rose both White and Red. Records of the Treasury of the 
Receipt of the Exchequer, now at the Rolls House, B. 28. 
Printed by Dyce. 

Recule Against Gaguin. MS. Trinity ColJ., Cam., 0.2 53 fob, 

Piece “Petuafly Constrained am I” (To His Wife). Printed in 
Athenaeum , November 29th, 1873, from Heber M.S. belonging 
to W. Bragge of Sheffield. 


Yox populi, vox Dei. MS. 2567 Cambridge Public Library. 

MS. Harl. 367, fol. 130 ( see vol. ii., 400). 

The Image of Ipocrysy. MS. Lansdown 794 (see vol. ii., 413). 
Verses presented to King Henry the Seventh at the Feast of St. 
George, Celebrated at Windsor in the Third Year of His Reign. 
(“O Most famous noble king! thy fame doth spring and spread.”) 
MS. penes Arth. Com., Anglesey, fol. 169 (see Ashmole, Order 
of the Garter, p. 594). 

Elegy on King Henry the Seventh, from an imperfect broadside in 
the Douce Collection, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. 
May have been by Stephen Hawes (?). 


Early Tudor Poetry , 1485-1547, by John M. Berdan, Macmillan, 
1920. Professor Berdan’s essay on Speak , Parrot in Modern 
Language Notes (of America), vol. xxx. The leading article in 
The Times Literary Supplement for June 20th, 1929, Dr. 
Koelbing’s essay, Barclay and Skelton , in the Cambridge History of 
English Literature , vol. iii. Dr. Robert Lee Ramsay’s valuable 
introduction to his edition of Magnificence , E.E.T.S. (Oxford 
University Press, 1908). Stephen Hawes’ Pastime of Pleasure, 
edited by W. E. Mead, E.E.T.S., 1928. Barclay’s Eclogues , 
E.E.T.S., edited by B. White, 1928, Wolsey , A. F. Pollard, 
1929. Mr. Richard Hughes’ edition of Poems by John Skelton , 
Heinemann, 1924. Mr. Robert Graves’ modernisation of poems 
and extracts from Skelton, Augustan Books of English Poetry , 
Series 2, No. 12, Benn, 1927. Professor Arber’s modernisation 
of two of Skelton’s poems, in his British Anthologies , 1901. 
Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words. 
Nare’s Glossary , edited by Halliwell and Wright. And, finally, 
Dyce’s “Account of the Author and his writings” prefixed to 
his edition. 



Elegies and Prayers: 

On the Death of the Noble Prince, King Edward 
the Fourth ...... i 

Upon the Dolorous Death and Much Lamentable 
Chance of the Most Honourable Earl of North- 

umberland ..... 


On Time ...... 



Woefully Arrayed 



Prayer to the Father of Heaven 


To the Second Person .... 



To the Holy Ghost 



Upon a Dead Man’s Head 


To his Wife ..... 


Ballads and Ditties: 

Now Sing we, as we were wont 


A Laud and Praise made for our Sovereign 
the King ..... 



Lullay, lullay, like a Child 



The Ancient Acquaintance, Madam, Between Us 
Twain . . . . . 


Knowledge, Acquaintance, Resort, Favour 
Grace . . . . 


3 1 

Though Ye Suppose all Jeopardies are Past . 


Go, Piteous Heart, rased with Deadly Woe 


Womanhood, Wanton, Ye Want 


Mistress Anne . . . . . 


Jolly Rutterkin ..... 


Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale 


The Bouge of Court .... 


Philip Sparrow . . 


Elinor Rumming . . . . 


CONTENTS — contd. 

Minor Satires ; 

Against a Comely Coistrown . 

Against Garnesche ..... 

Against Venomous Tongues .... 

Recule Against Gaguin . . 

The Manner of the World Nowadays 

Ware the Hawk ...... 

Against the Scots ...... 

Unto Divers People that Remord this Rhyming 
Magnificence, a Goodly Interlude and a Merry 
Calliope . . 

Major Satires: 

Speak, Parrot 

Colin Clout ... 

How the Doubty Duke of Albany, etc. . . 

Why Come Ye Not to Court? 

A Replication Against Certain Young Schollars 
Abjured of Late 

The Garland of Laurel 

Appendix, Latin Poems and Epitaphs . 











2 57 




33 8 

37 6 




Miser emini me, 1 ye that be my friends ! 

This world hath conformed me down to fall 
How may I endure, when that every thing ends? 

What creature is born to be eternall? 

Now there’s no more but “Pray for me all!” 

Thus say I, Edward, that late was your king, 

And twenty two years ruled this imperiall, 

Some unto pleasure, and some to no liking. 

Mercy I aske of my misdoing: 

What availeth it, friends, to be my foe, 

Sith I cannot resist, nor amend your complaining? 

Quia, ecce, nunc in pulv ere dormiol * 

I sleep now in mould, as it is naturall 
That earth unto earth hath his reverture. 

What ordained God to be terestriali 

Without recourse to the earth of nature? 

Who to live ever may himself assure? 

What is it to trust on mutability, 

Sith that in this world nothing may endure? 

For now am I gone, that late was in prosperity: 

To presume thereupon it is but a vanity, 

Not certain, but as a cherry-fair , 3 full of woe: 
Reigned not I of late in great felicity? 

Et, ecce, nunc in pulvere dormiol 

Where was in my life such one as I ■ 

While Lady Fortune with me had continuance? 
Granted not she me to have victory, 

In Engeland to reign, and to contribute France 4 ? 

x Pity me. 2 Since, lo, in dust sleep I now 

5 a cherry-wake. 4 to lay France under tribute. 


She took me by the hand and led me a dance, 
And with her sugared lips on me she smiled; 

But, what for her dissembled countenance, 

I could not beware till I was beguiled: 

Now from this world she hath me exiled 
When I was lothest hence for to go. 

And I am in age but, as who saith, a child, 

Et, ecce, nunc in pulvere dormiol 

I see well they live that double my years : 

Thus dealed this world with me as it list, 

And hath me made, to you that be my peers, 
Example to think on, had I wist. 

I stored my coffers and also my chest 
With taskes 1 taking of the commonalty; 

I took their treasure, but of their prayers missed 
Whom I beseech with pure humility 
For to forgive and have on me pity: 

I was your king, and kept you from your foe. 

I would now amend, but that will not be, 

Quia, ecce, nunc in pulvere dormiol 

I had enough, I held me not content 

Without remembrance that I should die; 

And more ever to increase was mine intent, 

I knew not how long I should it occupy 2 : 

I made the Tower strong, I wist not why; 

I knew not to whom 8 I purchased Tattershall; 

I amended Dover on the mountain high, 

And London I provoked to fortify the wall; 

I made Nottingham a place full royall, 

Windsor, Eltham, and many other mo: 

Y et, at the last, I went from them all, 

Et, ecce, nunc in pulvere dormiol 

Whereas now my conquest and my victory? 

Where is my riches and my royal array? 

2 possess it, use it. 3 i.e. for whom. 

1 taxes. 


Where be my coursers and my horses high? 

Where is my mirth, my solace, and my play? 

As vanity, to nought all is withered away. 

0 Lady Bess, long for me may ye call ! 

For we are departed 1 till doomes day: 

But love ye that Lord that is sovereign of all. 

Where be my castles and buildings royall? 

But Windsdr alone, * now I have no mo, 

And of Eton the prayers perpetuall, 

Ei, ecce, nunc in pulvere dormio ! 

Why should a man be proud or presume high? 

Saint Bernard thereof nobly doth treat, 

Saith a man is but a sack of stercorry, 3 
And shall return unto wormes meat. 

Why, what ’came of Alexander the Great? 

Or else of stronge Sampson, who can tell? 

Were not wormes ordained their flesh to frete 4 ? 
And of Salomon, that was of wit the well? 

Absolon proffered his hair for to sell, 

Y et for all his beauty wormes eat him als6; 

And I but late in honour did excel, 

Et, ecce, nunc in pulvere dormio ! 

1 have played my pageant, now am I passed; 

Y e wot well all I was of no great yeld 5 : 

Thus all thing concluded shall be at the last: 

When Death approacheth, then lost is the field: 
Then si then 8 this world me no longer upheld. 

Nor nought would conserve me here in my place, 

In manus tuas , Domine , 7 my spirit up I yield, 
Humbly beseeching thee, God, of thy grace! 

O ye courteous commons, your heartes unbrace 8 
Benignly now to pray for me als6: 

F or right well you know your king I was, 

Et, ecce , nunc in pulvere dormio! * 

1 parted. 2 Edward IY was buried at Windsor. 3 dung. 

4 gnaw. 5 age. 6 since. 7 Into thy hands, Lord. 8 open. 


I wail, I weep, I sob, I sigh full sore 
The deadly fate, the doleful destiny 
Of him that is gone, alas, without restore. 

Of the blood royall descending nobelly; 

Whose lordship doubtless was slain lamentably 
Thorough treason against him compassed and wrought, 
True to his prince in word, in deed, and thought 

Of heavenly poets, O Clio called by name, 

In the College of Muses goddess historiall, 

Address thee to me which am both halt and lame 
In elect utterance to make memoriall ! 

To thee for succour, to thee for help I call, 

Mine homely rudeness and dryness to expell 
With the freshe waters of Helicones well. 

Of noble acts anciently enrolled 

Of famous princes and lords of estate, 

By thy report are wont to be extolled, 

Registering truely every former date; 

Of thy bountie after the usual rate 
Kindle in me such plenty of thy nobless 
These sorrowful ditties that I may shew express. 

In seasons passed, who hath heard or seen 
Of former writing by any president 
That villeins hastards 1 in their furious tene , 2 
Fulfilled with malice of froward intent, 

Confettored 3 together of common consent 
Falsely to slay their most singular good lord? 

It may be registered of shameful record. 

1 rash fellows. 2 wrath. Confederated. 




So noble a man, so valiant lord and knight. 

Fulfilled with honour, as all the world doth ken; 

At his commandment which had both day and night 
Knightes and squires, at every season when 
He call’d upon them, as menial household men: 

Were not these commons uncourteous karls of kind 1 
To slay their own lord? God was not in their mind! 

And were not they to blame, I say, als6, 

That were about him, his owen servants of trust, 

To suffer him slain of his mortall foe? 

Fled away from him, let him lie in the dust; 

They ’bode not till the reckoning were discussed. 

What should I flatter? what should I glose or paint? 

Fie, fie for shame, their hearts were too faint! 

In England and France which greatly was redoubted, 2 
Of whom both Flanders and Scotland stood in drede, 

To whom great estates obeyed and lowted, 3 

A meiny 4 of rude villains made him for to bleed; 
Unkindly they slew him that holp them oft at need: 

He was their bulwark, their paves, 6 and their wall, 

Yet shamefully they slew him: that shame may them befall! 

I say, ye commoners, why were ye so stark mad? 

What frantic frenzy fell in your brain? 

Where was your wit and reason ye should have had? 

What wilful folly made you rise again® 

Your natural lord? alas, I cannot sayne. 

Ye armed you with will, and left your wit behind: 

Well may you be called commons most unkind! 

He was your chieftain, your shield, your chief defence, 
Ready to assist you in every time of need; * 

churls by nature. 2 dreaded. 3 bowed. 4 band. 

_ 5 shield* 6 against. T 


Your worship 1 depended of his excellence: 

Alas, ye madmen, too far ye did exceed. 

Your hap was unhappy, too ill was your speed, 

What moved you against him to war or to fight? 

What ailed you to slay your lord against all right? 

The ground of his quarrel was for his sovereign lord. 

The well concerning of all the whole land, 

Demanding such duties as needs must accord 

To the right of his prince, which should not be withstand; 
For whose cause ye slew him with your owen hand. 

But had his noblemen done well that day 
Y e had not been able to have said him nay. 

But there was false packing, or else I am beguiled. 

How be it, the matter was evident and plain, 

For if they had occupied their spear and their shield 
This noble man doubtless had not been slain. 

But men say they were linked with a double chain, 

And held with the commoners under a cloak, 

Which kindled the wild fire that made all this smoke. 

The commons renied 2 their taxes to pay, 

Of them demanded and asked by the king; 

With one voice importune they plainly said nay; 

They buskt them on a bushment 3 themselves in bale 4 to 

Against the king’s pleasure to wrestle or to wring; 
Bluntly as beastes with boast and with cry. 

They said they forsed not, 5 nor cared not to die. 

The nobleness of the north, this valiant lord and knight, 

As man fhat was innocent of treachery or train, 6 

honour. Refused, 3 got ready in ambush. trouble. 

5 regarded it not. 6 deceit. 


Pressed forth boldly to withstand their might, 

And, like martial Hector, he fought them again , 1 
Vigorously upon them with might and with main, 
Trusting in noblemen that were with him there: 

But all they fled from him for falsehood or fear. 

Barons, knights, squires, one and all. 

Together with servants of his familly, 

Turned their backs, and let their master fall, 

Of whose life they counted not a fly: 

Take up whose wold , 2 for there they let him lie. 

Alas, his gold, his fee, his annual rent 
Upon such a sort was ill bestowed and spent! 

He was environ’d about on every side 

With his enemies, that were stark mad and wood 3 ; 

Y et whiles he stood he gave them woundes wide. 

Alas for ruth! what though his mind were good. 

His courage manly, yet there he shed his blood: 

All left alone, alas, he fought in vain! 

For cruelly among them there he was slain. 

Alas for pity that Percy thus was spilt , 4 
The famous Earl of Northumberland! 

Of knightly prowess the sword, pommel, and hilt, 

The mighty lion ’doubted 5 by sea and land: 

O dolorous chance of Fortune’s froward hand! 

What man, rememb’ring how shamefully he was slain, 
From bitter weeping himself can restrain? 

O cruel Mars, thou deadly god of war ! 

O dolorous Tuesday 6 dedicate to thy name, 

When thou shook thy sword so noble a man to mar! 

O ground ungracious, unhappy be thy fame, 

Which wert endyed with red blood of the same 
Most noble earl! O foul misused ground # 
Whereon he gat his final deadly wound! 

bought against them. 2 take him up who would. 3 frantic. 

destroyed, 5 redoubted, feared. 6 i.e. Mardi, 


O Atropos, of the fatal sisters three, 

Goddess most cruel unto the life of man, 

All merciless, in thee is no pitie! 

O homicide, which slayest all that thou can. 

So forcibly upon this earl thou ran 
That with thy sword, enharped 1 of mortal dread, 

Thou cut assunder his perfite vital thread! 

My words unpolish’d be, naked and plain, 

Of aureat poems they want illumining; 

But by them to knowledge ye may attain 
Of this lord’s death and of his murdering; 

Which whiles he lived had foison of everything, 

Of knights, of squires, chief lord of tower and town, 

Till fickle Fortune began on him to frown. 

Paregal 2 to dukes, with kings he might compare, 
Surmounting in honour all earles he did exceed; 

To all countries about him report me I dare; 

Like to Aeneas benign in word and deed, 

Valiant as Hector in every martial need, 

Provident, discreet, circumspect, and wise, 

Till the chance ran against him of Fortune’s double dice. 

What needeth me for to extol his fame 

With my rude pen encankered all with rust. 

Whose noble acts shew worshiply his name, 

Transcending far mine homely Muse, that must 
Yet somewhat write, surprised with heartly lust, 3 
Truly reporting his right noble estate, 

Immortally which is immaculate? 

His noble blood never destained was, 

True to his prince for to defend his right, 

Doubtless hating false matters to compass, 

Traitory*and treason he banish’d out of sight, 

With truth to meddle was all his whole delight, 

^•edgedwitL 2 Equal. 3 overcome with grief. 



As all his country can testify the same: 

To slay such a lord, alas, it was great shame! 

If the whole choir of the Muses nine 
In me all only were set and comprised, 

Enbreathed with the blast of influence divine, 

As perfitely as could be thought or devised: 

To me also although it were promised 
Of laureat Phoebus wholly the eloquence, 

All were too little for his magnificence. 

0 young lion, but tender yet of age, 

Grow and increase, remember thine estate 5 
God thee assist unto thine heritage, 

And give thee grace to be more fortunate! 

Against rebellion’s arm thee to make debate; 

And, as the lion, which is of beastes king, 

Unto thy subjects be courteous and benign. 

1 pray God send thee prosperous life and long, 

Stable thy mind constant to be and fast, 

Right to maintain, and to resist all wrong: 

All flattering faytors 1 abhor and from thee cast; 

Of foul detraction God keep thee from the blast! 
Let double dealing in thee have no place, 

And be not light of credence in no case. 

With heavy cheer, with dolorous heart and mind, 
Each man may sorrow in his inward thought 
This lord’s death, whose peer is hard to find, 

Algife 2 England and F ranee were thorough sought. 
All kings, all princes, all dukes, well they ought, 
Both temporal and spiritual, for to complain 
This noble man that cruelly was slain. 

More specially barons, and those knightes bold, 

And all other gentlemen with him entertained 





In fee, as menial men of his househdld, 

Whom he as lord worshiply maintained: 

To sorrowful weeping they ought to be constrained 
As oft as they call to their remembrance 
Of their good lord the fate and deadly chance. 

O peerless Prince of heaven imperiall, 

That with one word formed all things of nought! 
Heaven, hell, and earth obey unto thy call; 

Which to thy resemblance wond’rously hast wrought 
All mankind, whom thou full dear hast bought, 

With thy blood precious our finance did’st pay, 

And us redeemed from the fiendes prey; 

To thee pray we, as Prince incomparable, 

As thou art of mercy and pity the well, 

Thou bring unto thy joy interminable 

The soul of this lord from all danger of hell, 

In endless bliss with thee to ’bide and dwell 
In thy palace above the orient, 

Where thou art Lord and God omnipotent. 

O Queen of Mercy, O Lady full of grace, 

Maiden most pure, and Goddess Mother dear, 

To sorrowful hearts chief comfort and solace, 

Of all women O flower withouten peer! 

Pray to thy Son above the stares clear, 

He to vouchsafe, by thy mediation, 

To pardon thy servant, and bring to salvation. 

In joy triumphant the heavenly hierarchy, 

With all the whole sort 1 of that glorious place, 

His soul may receive into their company, 

Thorough bounty of Him that formed all solace: 
Well of pity, of mercy, and of grace, 

The Fathef, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, 

In Trinitate one God of mightes most! * 



Ye may hear now, in this rime, 

How every thing must have a time. 

Time is a thing that no man may resist; 

Time is transitory and irrevocable; 

Who sayeth the contrary, Time passeth as him list 1 ; 
Time must be taken in season covenable 2 : 

Take Time when Time is, for Time is aye mutable; 
All thing hath time who can for it provide; 

Bide for Time who will, for Time will no man bide. 

Time to be sad, and time to play and sport; 

Time to take rest by way of recreation; 

Time to study, and time to use comfort; 

Time of pleasure, and time of consolation: 

Thus Time hath his time of divers manner fashion: 
Time for to eat and drink for thy repast; 

Time to be liberal, and time to make no wast: 

Time to travail, and time for to rest; 

Time for to speak, and time to hold thy peace: 
Time would be used when Time is best; 

Time to begin, and time for to cease; 

And when time is, to put thyself in prease , 3 
And when time is, to hold thyself aback: 

For time well spent can never have lack. 

The rootes take their sap in time of vere 4 ; 

In time of summer flowers fresh and green; 

In time of harvest men their corne shere; 

In time of winter the north wind waxeth keen, 

So bitterly biting the flowers be not seen: 

The calends of Janus, with his frostes hoar, 

That time is when people must live upon the store. 

*as pleases him. 2 fit. 3 press, throng. 4 spring. 



Woefully arrayed, 

My blood, man. 

For thee ran, 

It may not be nay’d 1 : 

My body blue and wan, 

Woefully arrayed. 

Behold me, I pray thee, with thy whole reason. 

And be not so hard-hearted, and for this encheason , 2 
Sith I for thy soul sake was slain in good season, 
Beguiled and betrayed by Judas 5 false treason: 

Unkindly entreated, 

With sharp cord sore fretted, 

The Jewes me threated: 

They mowed , 3 they grinned, they scorned me, 
Condemned to death, as thou may’st see, 

Woefully arrayed. 

Thus naked am I naildd, O man, for thy sake! 

I love thee, then love me; why sleepest thou? awake! 
Remember my tender heart-root for thee brake, 

With paines my veines constrained to crake 4 : 

Thus tugged to and fro. 

Thus wrapped all in woe, 

Whereas never man was so. 

Entreated thus in most cruel wise, 

Was like a lamb offered in sacrifice, 

Woefully arrayed. 

Of sharp thorn I have worn a crown on my head. 

So pained, so strained, so ruefull, so red. 

Thus bobbdd , 5 thus robbed, thus for thy love dead, 

denied. • 2 cause. ®mouthed* -crack. 6 beaten. 


Unfeigned I deigned my blood for to shed: 

My feet and handes sore 
The sturdy nailes bore: 

What might I suffer more 
Than I have done, O man, for thee? 

Come when thou list, welcome to me. 

Woefully arrayed. 

Of record thy good Lord I have been and shall be: 

I am thine, thou art mine, my brother I call thee. 

Thee love I entirely - see what is befall’ n me! 

Sore beating, sore threating, to make thee, man, all free 
Why art thou unkind? 

Why hast not me in mind? 

Come yet and thou shalt find 
Mine endless mercie and grace - 
See how a spear my heart did race , 1 
Woefully arrayed. 

Dear brother, no other thing I of thee desire 
But give me thine heart free to reward mine hire: 

I wrought thee, I bought thee from eternal fire: 

I pray thee array thee toward my high empire 
Above the orient, 

Whereof I am regent, 

Lord God omnipotent, 

With me to reign in endless wealth: 

Remember, man, thy soul’s health. 

Woefully arrayed. 

My blood, man, 

For thee ran, 

It may not be nay’d: 

My body blue and wan, 

Woefully arrayed. 

1 wound. 


O Radiant Luminary of light interminable. 

Celestial Father, potential God of might, 

Of heaven and earth O Lord incomparable, 

Of all perfections the Essential most perfite! 

O Maker of mankind, that formed day and night, 
Whose power imperial comprehendeth every place! 

Mine heart, my mind, my thought, my whole delight 
Is, after this life, to see thy glorious Face. 

Whose magnificence is incomprehensible, 

All arguments of reason which far doth exceed, 
Whose Deity doubtless is indivisible, 

From whom all goodness and virtue doth proceed. 
Of thy support all creatures have need: 

Assist me, good Lord, and grant me of thy grace 
To live to thy pleasure in word, thought, and deed, 
And, after this life, to see thy glorious Face. 




O benign Jesu, my sovereign Lord and King, 

The only Son of God by filiation, 

The Second Person withouten beginning, 

Both God and man, our faith maketh plain relation, 
Mary thy mother, by way of incarnation, 

Whose glorious passion our soules doth revive, 
Against all bodily and ghostly tribulation 
Defend me with thy piteous woundes five. 

O peerless Prince, pained to the death. 

Ruefully rent, thy body wan and bio, 1 
For my redemption gave up thy vital breath, 

Was never sorrow like to thy deadly woe! 

Grant me, out of this world when I shall go, 

Thine endless mercy for my preservative: 

Against the world, the flesh, the devil als6, 

Defend me with thy piteous woundes five. 

l livid. 



O Fiery Fervence, inflamed with all grace, 
Enkindling hearts with brandes charitable, 

The endless reward of pleasure and solace, 

To the Father and the Son thou are communicable 
In unitate which is inseparable! 

O water of life, O well of consolation ! 

Against all suggestions deadly and damnable 
Rescue me, good Lord, by your preservation. 

To whom is appropried the Holy Ghost by name, 
The Third Person, one God in Trinity, 

Of perfect love thou art the ghostly flame: 

Of mirror of meekness, peace, and tranquility, 

My comfort, my counsel, my perfect charity! 

O water of life, O well of consolation, 

Against all stormes of hard adversity 
Rescue me, good Lord, by thy preservation. 



Sent to him from an honourable gentlewoman for a token , 
he devised, this ghostly meditation in English covenable , in 
sentence commendable , lamentable , lacrimable , profitable for 
a soul. 

Y our ugly token 
My mind hath broken 
From worldly lust: 

For I have discust 
We are but dust, 

And die we must. 

It is general 
To be mortal: 

I have well espied 
No man may him hide 
From Death hollow-eyed, 

With sinews withered, 

With bones shivered, 

With his worm-eaten maw, 

And his ghastly jaw 
Gasping aside, 

Naked of hide, 

Neither flesh nor fell . 1 

Then, by my counsell, 

Look that ye spell 
Well this gospell: 

For whereso we dwell 
Death will us quell, 

And with us mell . 2 

F or all our pampered paunches \ 

There may no fraunchis , 3 
* Nor worldly bliss, 

1 skin. 2 meddle. franchise. 

1 7 




Redeem us from this: 

Our days be dated 
To be check-mated 
With draughtes of death 
Stopping our breath: 

Our eyen sinking, 

Our bodies stinking, 

Our gummes grinning, 

Our soules brinning . 1 
To whom, then, shall we sue, 
For to have rescue. 

But to sweet Jesu 
On us then for to rue? 

O goodly Child 
Of Mary mild, 

Then be our shield! 

That we be not exiled 
To the dun dale 
Of bootless bale , 2 
Nor to the lake 
Of fiendes blake . 3 

But grant us grace 
To see thy Face, 

And to purchase 
Thine heavenly place, 

And thy palace 
F ull of solace 
Above the sky 
That is so high, 


To behold and see 
The Trinitie! 


Myrres vous y. 


3 black. 


Constrained am I 
With weeping eye 

To mourn and ’plain, 

That we so nigh 
Of progeny * 

So suddenly 

Should part in twain. 

When ye are gone 
Comfort is none, 

But all alone 

Endure must I. 

With grievly grone 
Making my mone. 

As it were one 

That should needs die. 

What chance I 2 3 suddein t 
So doth me stay’n* 

In every way’n 

That for no thing 

I cannot Iay’n s , 

Nor yet refrain 
Mine eyes twain 

F rom sore weeping! 

This poem not in Dyce. First printed in the *Athen<zum> 
November 1873, from MS. belonging to Wm. Bragge of Sheffield 
(formerly Heber’s). 

2 soon to have children. Calamity. 4 bind. 5 rest. 



Now sing we, as we were wont, 

V exilla regis prodeunt . 1 

The King’s banner on field is splay’d, 

The cross’s myst’ry cannot be nay’d , 2 
To whom our Saviour was betray’d, 

And for our sake. 

Thus saith he: 

I suffer for thee, 

My death I take. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

V exilla regis prodeunt. 

Behold my shanks, behold my knees, 

Behold my head, arms, and thees, * 

Behold of me nothing thou sees 
But sorrow and pine 4 : 

Thus was I spilt, * 

Man, for thy guilt, 

And not for mine. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

V exilla regis prodeunt . 

Behold my body, how Jews it dong 6 
With knots of whipcord and scourges strong: 

As streams of a well the blood outsprong 
On every side. 

The knottes were knit 
Right well with wit, 

They made woundes wide 

The King’s banners are displayed. 2 denied. 3 thighs. 
4 pain. destroyed. C struck. 




Now sing we, as we were wont, 

F exilla regis prodeunt. 

Man, thou shalt now understand. 

Of my head, both foot and hand. 

Are four c. and five thousand 
Woundes and sixty; 

Fifty and vii. 

Were told full even 
Upon my body. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

F exilla regis prodeunt, 

Sith I for love bought thee so dear, 

As thou may see thyself here, 

I pray thee with a right good cheer 
Love me again: 

That it likes 1 me 
To suffer for thee 
Now all this pain. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

F exilla regis prodeunt. 

Man, understand now thou shall, 

Instead of drink they gave me gall, 

And eisell 2 mingled therewithall, 

The Jewes fell. 

Those pains on me 
I suffered for thee 

To bring thee fro hell. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

V exilla regis prodeunt . 

Now for thy life thou hast mislead, 

Mercy to ask be thou not adread: 

The least drop of blood that I for thee shed 
Might cleanse thee soon 

1 pleases. 2 vinegar. 


Of all the sin 
The world within 
If thou haddest doon. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 
Vexilla regis prodeunt 

I was more wrother with Judas 
For he would no mercy ask 
Than I was for his trespass 
When he me sold; 

I was ever ready 
To grant him mercy, 

But he none wold . 1 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

Vexilla regis prodeunt. 

Lo, how I hold mine arms abroad. 

Thee to receive ready y-spread ! 

F or the great love that I to thee had 
Well may thou know. 

Some love again 
I would full fain 

Thou wouldest to me show. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

Vexilla regis prodeunt . 

For love I ask nothing of thee 

But stand fast in faith, and sin thou flee. 

And pain 1 to live in honestie 
Both night and day; 

And thou shalt have bliss 
That never shall miss 8 
Withouten nay . 4 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 

Vexilla regis prodeunt . 

^ould. 2 strive. Tail. 4 Assuredly. 


Now, Jesu, for thy great goodness. 
That for men suffered great hardness, 
Save us from the devil’s cruelness, 
And to bliss us send, 

And grant us grace 
To see thy Face 
Withouten end. 

Now sing we, as we were wont, 
Vexilla regis prodeunt. 


The Rose both White and Red 
In one Rose now doth grow: 
Thus thorough every sted 1 
Thereof the fame doth blow. 
Grace the seed did sow: 
England, now gather floures. 
Exclude now all doloures. 

Noble Henry the Eight, 

Thy loving sovereign lord. 

Of kinges line most straight 
His title doth record: 

In whom doth well accord 
Alexis young of age, 

Adrastus wise and sage, 

Astrea, Justice hight, 

That from the starry sky 
Shall now come and do right. 
This hundred year scantly 
A man could not espy 
That Right dwelt us among, 
And that was the more wrong. 

Right shall the foxes chare, 2 
The wolves, the beares als6. 
That wrought have much care, 
And brought England in woe: 
They shall worry no mo, 

Nor root the Rosary 3 
By extort treachery, 

2 chase away. 


1 place. 

3 Rose-tree, 


Of this our noble king 

The law they shall not break; 
They shall come to reckoning; 

No man for them will speak: 
The people durst not creke 1 
Their griefes to complain. 

They brought them in such pain. 

Therefore no more they shall 
The commons overbace , 2 
That wont were over all 

Both lord and knight to face 3 : 

F or now the years of grace 
And wealth are come again, 

That maketh England fain . 4 

Adonis of fresh colour, 

Of youth the goodly floure, 

Our prince of high honour, 

Our paves , 5 our succour, 

Our king, our emperour, 

Our Priamus of Troy, 

Our wealth, our worldly joy: 

Upon us he doth reign, 

That maketh our heartes glad, 
As king most sovereign 
That ever England had; 
Demure, sober, and sad , 6 
And Martis lusty knight; 

God save him in his right! 


outcry. a over-awe. 3 vaunt. 
‘shield e discreet. 


With lullay, lullay, like a child, 

Thou sleep’s! too long, thou art beguiled. 

My darling dear, my daisy iloure, 

Let me, quod he, lie in your lap. 

Lie still, quod she, my paramoure. 

Lie still hardlie , 1 and take a nap. 

His head was heavy, such was his hap, 

All drowsy dreaming, drowned in sleep, 

That of his love he took no keep, 

With hey lullay, lullay, like a child. 

Thou sleep’st too long, thou art beguiled. 

With ba, ba, ba! and bas, bas, bas ! 2 

She cherished him both cheek and chin. 

That he wist never where he was: 

He had forgotten all deadly sin. 

He wanted wit her love to win: 

He trusted her payment and lost all his pay; 

She left him sleeping and stole away. 

With hey lullay, lullay, like a child, 

Thou sleep’st too long, thou art beguiled. 

The rivers rough, the waters wan, 

She spared not to wet her feet; 

She waded over, she found a man 

That halsed 3 her heartily and kissed her sweet: 
Thus after her cold she caught a heat. 

My love, she said, routeth 4 in his bed; 

Ywis 5 he hath an heavy head, 

With hey lullay, lullay, like a child, 

Thou sleep’st too long, thou art beguileS. 

x with. confidence. 2 With hissings, and Mss me. 

3 embraced her. 4 snores. 6 Assuredly. 


What dream’st thou, drunkard, drowsy pate? 

Thy lust and liking is from thee gone; 
Thou blinkard blowboll , 1 thou wakest too late. 
Behold thou liest, luggard, alone ! 

Well may thou sigh, well may thou groan, 
To deal with her so cowardly: 

Ywis, pole hatchet , 2 she bleared thin eye . 8 

^link-eyed drunkard. 

2 a man who gossips around an ale-pole, the sign of an 
3 did you in the eye. 


The ancient acquaintance, madam, between us twain. 

The familiaritie, the former daliance, 

Causeth me that I cannot myself refrain 

But that I must write for my pleasant pastance 1 : 
Remembering your passing goodly countenance, 

Your goodly port, your beauteous visage, 

Ye may be counted comfort of all corage . 2 

Of all your features favourable to make true description, 

I am insufficient to make such enterprise: 

For this dare I say, without contradiction, 

That Dame Melanippe was never half so wise: 

Y et so it is that a rumour begineth for to rise 
How in good horsemen ye set your whole delight, 

And have forgotten your old true loving knight. 

With bound and rebound bouncingly take up 
His gentle curtal, and set nought by small nags! 

Spur up at the hinder girth, with, Gup, morell , 3 gup! 

With, Jayst ye, jennet of Spain, for your tail wags! 

Ye cast all your corage 4 upon such courtly hags. 

Have in fi sergeant farrier, my horse behind is bare; 

He rideth well the horse - but he rideth better the mare! 

Ware, ware, the mare winceth with her wanton heel! 

She kicketh with her calkins and keyleth with & clench; 

pastime. 2 all hearts (sic). 3 a black horse. 

4 a£fection. 5 Bring in. 




She goeth yvide behind, and heweth 1 never a dele 2 : 

Ware galling in the withers, ware of that wrench 3 ! 

It is perilous for a horseman to dig in the trench. 

This grieveth your husband, that right gentle knight, 

And so with your servantes he fiercely doth fight. 

So fiercely he fighteth, his mind is so fell, 

That he driveth them down with dints on their day- 

He bruiseth their brainpannes and maketh them to swell, 
Their browes all to-broken, such clappes they catch; 
Whose jealousy malicious maketh them to leap the hatch 4 ; 
By their cognizance 5 knowing how they serve a wily pie 6 : 
Ask all your neighbours whether that I lie. 

It can be no counsel that is cried at the cross 7 : 

F or your gentle husband sorrowful am I ; 

Howbeit, he is not first hath had a loss: 

Advertising you, madam, to work more secretly, 

Let not all the world make an outcry: 

Play fair play, madam, and look ye play clean, 

Or else with great shame your game will be seen. 

Colours, blushes (perhaps). 2 never a bit. 

3 wile - the passage is, of course, metaphorical, and refers to the 
lady’s intimacy with her stablemen. 

4 the half-door of the stable. 5 the badge worn by servants, 

6 magpie (double reference to the knight’s coat of arms and to 
the lady). 

7 no secret that is proclaimed in the market-place. 


Knowledge, acquaintance, resort, favour with grace; 

Delight, desire, respite with liberty; 

Corage 1 with lust, convenient time and space; 

Disdains, distress, exiled cruelty; 

Wordes well set with good liability; 

Demure demeanour, womanly of port; 

Transcending pleasure, surmounting all disport; 

Electuary arrected 2 to redress 3 

These fervourous axes , 4 the deadly woe and pain 
Of thoughtful heartes plunged in distress; 

Refreshing mindes 5 the April shower of rain; 

Conduit of comfort, and well most sovereign; 

Herber 6 enverdured, continual fresh and green; 

Of lusty summer the passing goodly queen; 

The topaz rich and precious in virtue; 

Your ruddies 7 with ruddy rubies may compare; 
Saphire of sadness, enveined with Indy blue; 

The polished pearl your whiteness doth declare; 
Diamond pointed to rase out heartly care; 

Gain 8 surfeitous suspect the emerald commendable; 
Relucent smaradge , 9 object incomparable; 

Encircled mirror and perspective most bright; 

Illumined with features far passing my report; 

Radiant Hesperus, star of the cloudy night, 

Lode-star to light these lovers to their port, 

Gain dangerous stormes their ancor to support, 


1 Affection. Empowered. 3 relieve. 4 paroxysms. 

5 as (understood). e Arbour. 7 blushes. 

8 Against. 9 a lighter coloured emerald 

3 * 


Their sail of solace most comfortably clad, 

Which to behold maketh heavy heartes glad: 

Remorse 1 have I of your most goodlihood , 2 
Of your behaviour courteous and benign, 

Of your bounty and of your womanhood, 

Which maketh my heart oft to leap and spring, 

And to remember many a pretty thing: 

But absence, alas, with trembling fear and dread 
Abasheth me, albeit I have no need. 

You I assure, absence is my foe, 

My deadly woe, my painful heaviness; 

And if ye list to know the cause why so 

Open mine heart, behold my mind express: 

I would ye could! then should ye see, mistress, 

How there nis 8 thing that I covet so fain 
As to embrace you in mine armes twain. 

Nothing earthly to me more desirous 

Than to behold your beauteous countenance: 

But, hateful Absence, to me so envious, 

Though thou withdraw me from her by long distance, 
Yet shall she never out of my remembrance: 

For I have graved her within the secret wall 
Of my true heart, to love her best of all! 

l Reraembrance. 

2 perfect goodness. 

8 is not. 


Though ye suppose all jeopardies are passed. 

And all is done that ye looked for before. 
Ware yet, I rede 1 you, of Fortune’s double cast, 
For one false point she is wont to keep in store, 
And under the fell 2 oft festered is the sore: 
That when ye think all danger for to pass 
Ware of the lizard lieth lurking in the grass. 


2 skin. 



Go, piteous heart, rased 1 with deadly woe, 

Pierced with pain, bleeding with woundes smart, 
Bewail thy fortune, with veines wan and bio. 2 

0 Fortune unfriendly, Fortune unkind thou art 
To be so cruel and so overthwart, 3 

To suffer me so carefully to endure 
That where I love best I dare not discure 4 ! 

One there is, and ever one shall be, 

For whose sake my heart is sore diseased 5 
F or whose love welcome disease to me ! 

1 am content so all parties be pleased : 

Yet, an God would, I would my pain were eased! 
But Fortune enforceth me so carefully to endure 
That where I love best I dare not discure! 

At the instance of a noble lady . 
bounded. 2 livid. 3 perverse. ‘discover (myself). 


Womanhood, wanton, ye want: 

Your meddling, mistress, is mannerless; 
Plenty of ill, of goodness scant, 

Ye rail at riot, reckeless: 

To praise your port it is needeless; 

For all your draffe 1 yet and your dregs. 

As well borne as ye full oft time begs. 

Why so coy and full of scorn? 

Mine horse is sold, I ween, you say; 

My new furred gown, when it is worn . . . 
Put up your purse, ye shall not pay! 

By crede, I trust to see the day, 

As proud as a pea-hen as ye spread, 

Of me and other ye may have need. 

Though angelic be your smiling, 

Y et is your tongue an adder’s tail, 

Full like a scorpion stinging 

All those by whom ye have avail. 

Good mistress Anne, there ye do shail 2 : 
What prate ye, pretty pigesnye 3 ? 

I trust to ’quite you ere I die! 

Your key is meet for every lock, 

Your key is common and hangeth out; 
Your key is ready, we need not knock, 

Nor stand long wresting there about; 

Of your door-gate ye have no doubt: 

But one thing is, that ye be lewd: 

Hold your tongue now, all beshrewd! 

To Mistress Anne, that farly sweet , 4 
That wones 5 at The Key in Thames Street 

Refuse. 2 walk crookedly. 3 darling 

4 strange sweet one. 6 dwells. 



Mistress Anne, 

I am your man. 

As you may well espy. 

If you will be 
Content with me, 

I am your man. 

But if you will 

Keep company still 

With every knave that comes by, 

Then you will be 
Forsaken of me, 

That 2 am your man. 

But if you fain, 

I tell you plain, 

That® I presently shall die, 

I will not such 
As loves too much, 

That am your man. 

For if you can 

Love every man 

That can flatter and lie, 

Then are ye 
No match for me, 

That am your man. 

For I will not take 
No such kind of make 4 
(May all full well it trie 6 !). 

But off will ye cast 
At any blast, 

* That am your man. 

J MS. Trin. Coll. Cam,, 0.2. 53, fol. 165^, first printed by Brie. 
Skelton-Studien , Eng. Stud. 

in MS. 3 ‘If y in MS. 4 mate. Experience. 



Hoyda, jolly rutterkin, 2 hoyda! 

Like a rutterkin hoyda. 

Rutterkin is come unto our town 
In a cloak without coat or gown. 

Save a ragged hood to cover his crown, 

Like a rutter hoyda. 

Rutterkin can speak no English, 

His tongue runneth all on buttered fish, 

Besmeared with grease about his dish, 

Like a rutter hoyda. 

Rutterkin shall bring you all good luck, 

A stoup of beer up at a pluck, 3 
Till his brain be as wise as a duck, 

Like a rutter hoyda. 

When rutterkin from board will rise, 

He will piss a gallon pot full a-twice, 

And the overplus under the table of the new guise, 
Like a rutter hoyda. 

1 From the Fairfax MS. (5465, B.M.), from which also is taken 
Woefully Arrayed and Mannerly Margery. Dyce says that “there is 
a probability” that this song was composed by Skelton. Moreover, 
in Magnificence , Courtly Abusion comes in singing part of it. It is 
possible that Skelton would make his character quote one of his 
own songs. It is possible, too, that some of the other songs in this 
MS., still unprinted, are by Skelton. Margaret Meek , for instance, 
and another poem in the manner of Woefully Arrayed. 

2 Dashing fellow, gay spark. See Riot in Bouge of Court. 3 gulp. 


Ay, beshrew you ! by my fay, 

These wanton clerks be nice 1 alway! 

Avaunt, avaunt, my popinjay! 

What, will you do nothing but play? 

Tilly vally straw, let be I say! 

Gup, Christian Clout, gup. Jack of the Vale! 
With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale. 

By God, ye be a pretty pode,* 

And I love you an whole cart-load. 

Straw, James F oder, ye play the fode , 8 
I am no hackney 4 for your rode 5 : 

Go watch a bull, your back is broad! 

Gup, Christian Clout, gup, Jack of the Vale! 
With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale. 

Ywis ye deal uncourteously; 

What, would ye frumple 8 me? now fy ! 

What, and ye shall be my pigesnye? 

By Christ, ye shall not, no hardely: 

I will not be japed 7 bodily! 

Gup, Christian Clout, gup, Jack of the Vale! 
With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale. 

Walk forth your way, ye cost me nought; 

Now have I found that I have sought: 

The best cheap flesh that ever I bought. 

Yet, for His love that all hath wrought. 

Wed me, or else I die for thought. 

Gup, Christian Clout, your breath is stale! 

Go, Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale! 

Gup, Christian Clout, gup, Jack of the Vale! 
With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale. 

^aucy. 2 toad (perhaps). 3 seducer. 4 hack, whore. 

5 rod. 8 rumple. 7 joked with, in the sense of raped. 


Here beginneth a little Treatise named 


The Prologue to the Bouge of Court 

In autumn, when the sun in Virgine 
By radiant heat enriped hath our com; 

When Luna, full of mutability. 

As emperess the diadem hath worn 
Of our pole arctic, smiling half in scorn 
At our folly and our unsteadfastness; 

The time when Mars to warre him did ’dress , 8 

I, calling to mind the great authority 
Of poetes old, which full craftily, 

Under as covert termes as could be. 

Can touch a truth and cloak it subtily 
With freshe utterance full sententiously, 
Diverse of style, some spared not vice to wite , 3 
Some of morality nobly did endite; 

Wherby I rede 4 their renown and their fame 
May never die, but evermore endure: 

I was sore moved to aforce 5 the same, 

But Ignorance full soon did me discure , 6 
And shewed that in this art I was not sure; 

For to illumine, she said, I was too dull. 

Advising me my pen away to pull. 

And not to write: for he so will attain 
Exceeding further than his conning 7 is, 

The Rewards of Court. 2 prepare. 3 blame, 

‘reckon. attempt. 6 discover. ’knowledge. 


His head may be hard, but feeble is his brain. 

Yet have I knowen such ere this. 

But of reproach surely he may not miss 
That climbeth higher than he may footing have: 
What an he slide down, who shall him save? 

Thus up and down my mind was drawen and cast, 
That I ne wist 1 what to do was best 5 
So sore enwearied, that I was at the last 
Enforced to sleep and for to take some rest, 

And to lie down as soon as I me ’dressed. 2 
At Harwich port slumb’ring as I lay 
In mine hostes house, called Powers Key, 

Methought I saw a ship, goodly of sail, 

Come sailing forth into the haven broad, 

Her tackeling rich and of high appareil: 

She cast an ancor, and there she lay at road, 8 
Merchants her boarded to see what she had load. 
Therein they found royal merchandise, 

Fraughted with pleasure of what ye could devise. 

But then I thought I would not dwell behind; 

Among all others I put myself in press. 

Then there could I none acquaintance find: 

There was much noise; anon one cried, “Cease T 
Sharply commanding each man hold his peace. 
“Maisters,” he said, “the ship that ye here see 
The Bouge of Court it hight for certaintie. 

“The owner thereof is lady of estate 

Whose name to tell is Dame Saunce-pere*; 

Her merchandise is rich and fortunate, 

But who will have it must pay therefor dear; 
This royal chaffer 5 that is shipped here 
Is called Favour to stand in her good grace.” 

Then should ye see there pressing in apace 

*knew not. prepared. 3 in harbour. 

4 Peerless. 5 merchandise. 


Of one and other that would this lady see; 

Which sat behind a traves 1 of silke fine, 

Of gold of tissue the finest that might be. 

In a throne which far clearer did shine 
Than Phoebus in his sphere celestine; 

Whose beautie, honour, goodly port 
I have too little cunning to report* 

But of each thing there as I took heed, 

Among all other was written in her throne 
In gold letters, these words, which I did read: 
Gardez le fortune, qui est mauelz et bone 1 
And, as I stood reading this verse myself alone, 
Her chief gentlewoman, Danger by her name. 

Gave me a taunt, and said I was to blame 

To be so pert to press so proudly up: 

She said she trowed that I had eaten sauce; 

She asked if ever I drank of sauce’s cup. 

And I then softly answered to that clause, 

That so to say I had given her no cause. 

Then asked she me, “Sir, so God thee speed, 

What is thy name?” and I said it was Drede . 2 

“What moved thee,” quod she, “hither to come?” 

“Forsooth,” quod I, “to buy some of your ware.” 
And with that word on me she gave a glome 3 
With browes bent, and ’gan on me to stare 
Full dainously,* and fro me she did fare, 

Leaving me standing as a mazed man, 

To whom there came another gentlewoman: 

Desire was her name, and so she me told, 

Saying to me, “Brother, be of good cheer. 

Abash you not, but hardely be bold, 

Avaunce yourself to approach and come n^ar: 
What though our chaffer be never so dear, 

Curtain. 2 Modesty. 3 a frown. 4 disdainfully. 


Yet I advise you to speak, for any drede 1 : 

Who spareth to speak, in faith, he spareth to speed.” 

“Maistress,” quod I, “I have none acquaintance 
That will for me be mediator and mean; 

And this another, I have but small substance.” 
“Peace,” quod Desire, “ye speak not worth a bean! 
If ye have not, in faith, I will you lene* 

A precious jewel, no richer in this land: 

Bon Aventure have here now in your hand. 

“Shift now therewith, let see, as ye can 
In Bouge of Court chevisaunce 3 to make; 

For I dare say that there nis earthly man 
But, an he can Bon Aventure take. 

There can no favour nor friendship him forsake; 
Bon Aventure may bring you in such case 
That ye shall stand in favour and in grace. 

“But of one thing I warn you ere I go: 

She that steereth the ship, make her your friend.” 
“Maistress,” quod I, “I pray you tell me why so, 
And how I may that way and meanes find.” 
“Forsooth,” quod she, “however blow the wind, 
Fortune guideth and ruleth all our ship: 

Whom she hateth shall over the seaboard skip; 

“Whom she loveth, of all pleasure is rich, 

Whiles she laugheth and hath lust for play; 

Whom she hateth, she casteth in the ditch, 

For when she frowneth, she thinketh to make a fray; 
She cherisheth him, and him she casteth away.” 
“Alas,” quod I, “how might I have her sure?” 

“In faith,” quod she, “by Bon Aventure.” 

fi.e. notwithstanding any fear you may feel. 

2 lend. 3 achievement. 



Thus, in a row, of merchants a great rout 

Sued to Fortune that she would be their friend: 
They throng in fast and flocked her about; 

And I with them prayed her to have in mind. 

She promised to us all she would be kind: 

Of Bouge of Court she asketh what we would have, 
And we asked Favour, and Favour she us gave. 

Thus endefh the Prologue; and heginneth the 
Bouge of Court briefly compiled . 


The sail is up, Fortune ruleth our helm, 

We want no wind to pass now over all; 

Favour we have tougher than any elm, 

That will abide and never from us fall. 

But under honey oft time lieth bitter gall: 

For, as methought, in our ship I did see 
F ull subtil persons, in number four and three. 

The first was Favell, 1 full of flattery, 

With fables false that well could feign a tale; 

The second was Suspect, which that daily 

Misdeemed each man, with face deadly and pale; 
And Harvy Hafter, that well could pick a male, 2 
With other four of their affinity, 

Disdain, Riot, Dissimuler, Subtilty. 

Fortune their friend, with whom oft she did dance; 

They could not fail, they thought, they were so sure; 
And oftentimes I would myself advance 
With them to make solace and pleasure. 

But my disport they could not well endure: 

They said they hated for to deal with Drede.* 

Then Favell ’gan with fair speach me to feed. 

Cajolery. 2 purse. 




“No thing earthly that I wonder so sore 
As, of your conning , 1 that is so excellent; 
Deinte 2 to have with us such one in store, 
So virtuously that hath his dayes spent; 
Fortune to you gifts of grace hath lent: 
Lo, what it is a man to have conning! 

All earthly tresure it is surmounting. 

“ Y e be an apt man, as any can be found, 

To dwell with us, and serve my lady’s grace; 

Ye be to her, yea, worth a thousand pound! 

I heard her speak of you within short space. 
When there were divers that sore did you menace; 
And, though I say it, I was myself your friend, 

For here be divers to you that be unkind. 

“But this one thing: ye may be sure of me; 

For, by that Lord that bought dear all mankind, 

I cannot flatter, I must be plain to thee ! 

An ye need ought, man, shew to me your mind, 
For ye have me whom faithful ye shall find; 
Whiles I have ought, by God, thou shalt not lack, 
And if need be, a bold word I dare crack! 

“Nay, nay, be sure, whiles I am on your side 
Y e may not fall, trust me, ye may not fail. 

Ye stand in favour, and Fortune is your guide, 
And, as she will, so shall our great ship sail: 

These lewd cockwats 3 shall nevermore prevail 
Againsf you hardly, therefore be not afraid. 
Farewell till soon, but no word that I said!” 

beaming. 2 i.e. It is a pleasure. 8 vile cuckolds. 



Then thanked I him for his great gentleness. 

But, as methought, he wear on him a cloak 
That lined was with doubtful doubleness; 

Methought, of words that he had full a poke; 

His stomach stuffed oft times did reboke . 1 
Suspect, methought, met him at a braid , 2 
And I drew near to hark what they two said. 

“In faith,” quod Suspect, “spake Drede no word of me?” 

“Why? what then? wilt thou hinder men to speak? 
He saith he cannot well accord with thee.” 

“Tush,” quod Suspect, “go play! him I ne reke 3 !” 
“By Christ,” quod Favell, “Drede is sullen freke.* 

" What, let us hold him up, man, for a while!” 

“Yea so,” quod Suspect, “he may us both beguile.” 

And when he came walking soberly, 

With hum and ha, and with a crooked look, 
Methought his head was full of jealousy. 

His eyen rolling, his handes fast they quoke; 

Aiid to meward the straight way he took. 

“God speed, brother!” to me quod he then. 

And thus to talk with me he began. 


“Ye remember the gentleman right now 

That communed with you, methought a pretty space 
Beware of him, for, I make God avow. 

He will beguile you and speak fair to your face. 

Y e never dwelt in such another place, 

For here is none that dare well another trust- • 

But I would tell you a thing, an I durst! 

Suddenly. 8 reck not. 

1 belch. 

4 fellow. 



“Spake he, i’faith, no word to you of me? 

I weet, an he did, ye would me tell. 

I have a favour to you, whereof it be 

That I must shew you much of my counsel!. 

But I wonder what the devil of hell 
He said of me when he with you did talk! 

By mine advise use not with him to walk. 

“The sovranest thing that any man may have 
Is little to say, and much to hear and see; 

For, but I trusted you, so God me save, 

I would no thing so plaine be: 

To you onlie, methink, I durst shrive me, 

For now am I plenarely 1 disposed 

To shew you things that may not be disclosed. 1 ’ 

Then I assured him my fidelitie 
His counsel never to disclose. 

If he could find in heart to truste me; 

Else I prayed him, with all my busy cure, 

To keep it himself, for then he might be sure 
That no man earthly could him betray, 

Whiles of his mind it were locked with the key. 

“By God,” quod he, “thus and thus it is ... ” 

And of his mind he shewed me all and some. 
“Farewell,” quod he, “we will talk more of this . . 

So he departed where he would be come. 

I dare not speak, I promised to be dum. 

But, as I stood musing in my mind, 

Harvy Hafter came leaping, light as lind. 2 

Upon his breast he bear a versing-box, 3 

His throat was clear, and lustily could fain. * 
Methought his gown was all furred with fox, 

And ever he sang, “Sith I am nothing plain . . 

To keep him from picking 6 it was a greate pain: 

tfully. 2 linden-tree. 3 dice-box. 4 sing. Stealing. 



He gazed on me with his goatish beard. 

When I looked at him my purse was half-afeard. 


“Sir, God you save! why look ye so sad *? 

What thing is that I may do for you? 

A wonder thing that ye wax not mad: 

For, an I study should as ye do now, 

My wit would waste, I make God avow ! 

Tell me your mind: methink ye make a verse 5 
I could it scan, an ye would it rehearse ! 

“But to the point shortly to proceed, 

Where hath your dwelling been ere ye came here? 

For, as I trow, I have seen you indeed 

Ere this, when that ye make me royal cheer. 

Hold up the helm, look up, and let God steer: 

I would be merry, what wind that ever blow! 

Heave and how rumhelow , . . . row the boat , Norman , row / 

“ Princes of youth can ye sing by rote? 

Or shall I sail with you? a fellowship assay? 

For on the book I cannot sing a note. 

Would to God it would please you some day 
A ballad book before me for to lay, 

And learn me to sing re mi fa sol\ 

And, when I fail, bob me on the noil. 2 

“Lo, what is to you a pleasure great 

To have that conning and wayes that ye have! 

By Goddes soul, I wonder how ye gate 
So great pleasure, or who to you it gave. 

Sir, pardon me, I am an homely knave, 

To be with you thus pert and thus bold: 

But ye be welcome to our household ! 

Serious. 2 bang me on the head. 


“And, I dare say, there is no man therein 
But would be glad of your companie. 

I wist never man that so soon could win 
The favour that ye have with my ladie. 

I pray to God that it may never die: 

It is your fortune for to have that grace: 

As I be saved, it is a wonder case. 

“For, as for me, I served here many a day 
And yet unneth 1 I can have my living: 

But I require you no worde that I say 2 ! 

For, an I know any earthly thing 
That is against you, ye shall have weeting. 8 
And ye be welcome, sir, so God me save: 

I hope hereafter a friend of you to have.” 


With that, as he departed so from me, 

Anon there met with him, as methought, 

A man, but wonderly beseen 4 was he. 

He looked haughty; he set each man at nought; 

His gawdy garment with scornes was all wrought; 

With indignation lin6d was his hood: 

He frowned, as he would swear by Cockes blood. 5 

He bit his lip, he looked passing coy; 

His face was belimmed 8 as bees had him stung: 

It was no time with him to jape nor toy! 

Envy had wasted his liver and his lung, 

Hatred by the heart so had him wrung 
That he looked pale as ashes to my sight: 

Disdain, I ween, this comerous 7 crab is hight. 

Scarcely. 2 i.e. I beg you not to mention a word of what I say. 
knowledge of it. 4 of strange appearance. s God’s blood. 
6 disfigured. troublesome. 



To Harvy Hafter, then, he spake of me, 

And I drew near to hark what they two said. 

“Now,” quod Disdain, “as I shall saved be, 

I have great scorn, and am right evil apayed. l ” 

Then quod Harvy Hafter, “Why art thou so dismayed?” 
“By Christ,” quod he, “for it is shame to say; 

To see yon Johan Dawes, 2 that came but yesterday. 

“How he is now taken in conceit, 3 

This Doctor Dawcock, I ween, he hight! 

By Goddes bones, but if we have some slight 
It is like he will stand in our light.” 

“By God,” quod Harvy, “and it so happen might; 
Let us therefore shortly at a word 
Find some means to cast him overboard.” 

“By Him that me bought,” then quod Disdain, 

“I wonder sore he is in such conceit!” 

“Turd !” quod Hafter, “I will thee nothing layne, 4 
There must for him be laid some pretty bait; 
We twain, I trow, be not without deceit; 

First pick a quarrel, and fall out with him then, 
And so outface him with a card of ten. 5 ” 

Forthwith he made on me a proud assault, 

With scornful look moved all in mood 6 ; 

He went about to take me in a fault; 

He frowned, he stared, he stamped where he stood. 

I looked on him, I wend he had been wood. 7 
He set the arm proudly under the side, 

And in, this wise he ’gan with me to chide. 


dll-pleased. 2 i.e. simpleton, daw, as also in Dawcock. 
3 in favour. 4 conceal. 5 i.e. a trump card. 

6 anger. . 7 1 thought . . . mad. 




“Renj.emb’rest thou what thou said yesternight? 

Wilt thou abide by the wordes again? 

By God, I have of thee now great despite ! 

I shall thee anger once in every vein: 

It is great scorn to see such an hayne 1 
As thou art, one that came but yesterday, 

With us old servants suche maisters to play! 

“I .tell thee, I am of countenance 2 : 

What wenest I were? I trow thou know not me! 
By Goddes wounds, but for displeasance, 

Of my quarrel soon would I venged be. 

But no force , 3 I shall once meet with thee. 

Come when it will, oppose thee I shall, 

Whatsomever adventure thereof fall. 

“Trowest thou, drevil* I say, thou gawdy knave, 

That I have deinte 5 to see thee cherished thus? 

By Goddes side, my sword thy head shall shave ! 

Well, once thou shalt be charmed , 6 ywus. 

Nay, straw for tales, thou shalt not rule us: 

We be thy betters, and so thou shalt us take. 

Or we shall thee out of thy clothes shake!” 


With that came Riot, rushing all at once, 

A rusty gallant, to-ragged and to-rent; 

And on the board he whirled a pair of bones , 7 
Quater trey dews he clattered as he went: 

“Now have at all, by Saint Thomas of Kent!” 

And ever he threw and cast I wote n’ere what: 

His hair was growen thorough out his hat. 

‘low fellow. 2 a man of position. s no matter. 
4 drudge. 6 pleasure. a quelled. 7 dice. 



Then I beheld how he disguised was 1 : 

His head was heavy for watching over night. 
His eyen bleered, his face shone like a glass; 

His gown so short that it ne cover might 
His rump, he went so all for summer light! 

His hose was garded 2 with a list of green. 

Yet at the knee they were broken, I ween. 

His coat was checked with patches red and blue; 

Of Kirby Kendal 3 was his short demie*; 

And aye he sang, In faith y deacon , thou crew ; 

His elbow bare, he wear his gear so nigh 5 ; 

His nose a-dropping, his lippes were full dry; 
And by his side his whinard 6 and his pouch, 

The devil might dance wherein for any crowch. 7 

Counter 8 he could 0 lux upon a pot, 

An ostrich feather of a capon’s tail 
He set up freshly upon his hat aloft: 

“What revel rout!” quod he, an ’gan to rail 
How oft he had hit Jennet on the tail, 

Of Phillis featuous, 9 and little pretty Kate, 

How oft he had knocked at her clicked gate. 

What should I tell more of his ribaldry? 

I was ashamed so to hear him prate: 

He had no pleasure but in harlotry. 

“Ay,” quod he, “in the devil’s date. 

What art thou? I saw thee now but late.” 
“Forsooth,” quod I, “in this court I dwell now.” 
“Welcome,” quod Riot, “I make God avow. 

ihow wretched he was. 2 braided. * 

* Famous for his manufacture of green cloth. 4 vest. 

5 clothes so thin (through wear). 6 sword. 

7 any piece of money. 8 drum a tattoo (here). 8 dainty. 



“And, sir, in faith why com’st not us among 
To make thee merry, as other fellows done? 

Thou must swear and stare, man, all day long, 

And wake all night, and sleep till it be noon; 

Thou mayest not study, or muse on the moon; 

This world is nothing but eat, drink, and sleep, 

And thus with us good company to keep. 

“Pluck up thine heart upon a merry pin. 

And let us laugh a pluck or twain at nale 1 : 

What the devil, man, mirth is here within !» 

What, lo man, see here of dice a bale 2 ! 

A birdeling-cast for that is in thy male! 

Now have at all that lieth upon the board! 

Fie on these dice, they be not worth a turd! 

“Have at the hasard, or at the dozen brown, 

Or else I pass a penny to a pound! 

Now, would to God, thou would lay money down! 

Lord, how that I would cast it full round! 

Ay, in my pouch a buckle I have found, 

The arms of Callais, I have no coin nor cross 3 ! 

I am not happy, I run aye on the loss. 

“Now run must I to the stewes side 4 

To weet if Malkin, my lemman , 6 have got ought; 

I let her to hire, that men may on her ride, 

Her armes easy 6 far and near is sought; 

By Goddes side, since I her hither brought 
She hath got me more money with her tail 
Than hath some ship that into Bordews 7 sail: 

“Had I as good an horse as she is a mare 

I durst adventure to journey thorough France; 

*at the ale-house. ®a pair of dice. 

3 Many coins were marked with a cross. 4 to the brothel. 

5 my sweetheart. 6 easily won favours (?). ’Bordeaux. 



Who rideth on her, he needeth not to care. 

For she is trussed for to break a lance: 

It is a curtal that well can winch and prance. 

To her will I now all my poverty allege, 

And, till I come, have here my hat in pledge.” 


Gone is this knave, this ribald foul and lewd. 

He ran as fast as ever that he might. 
Unthriftiness in him may well be shewed, 

For whom Tyburn groaneth both day and night. 
And, as I stood and cast aside my sight, 

Disdain I saw with Dissimulation 
Standing in sad 1 communication. 

But there was pointing and nodding with the head, 
And many wordes said in secret wise; 

They wandered aye, and stood still in no stead: 
Methought alway Dissimuler did devise. 

Me passing sore mine heart then ’gan agrise , 2 
I deemed and dread their talking was not good. 
Anon Dissimuler came where I stood. 

Then in his hood I saw there faces twain: 

That one was lean and like a pined ghost, 

That other looked as he would me have slain; 

And to meward as he ’gan for to coast, 

When that he was even at me almost, 

I saw a knife hid in his one sleeve, 

Whereon was written this word, Mischief. 

And in his other sleeve, methought, I saw 
A spoon of gold, full of honey sweet, 

To feed a fool, and for to prove a daw 3 ; 

And on that sleeve these wordes were writ, % 

A false abstract cometh from a false concrete . 

Earnest. ^shudder. Ho try a simpleton. 


His hood was long, his cope 1 was russet gray: 
These were the words that he to me did say. 


“How do ye, maister? ye look so soberly! 

As I be savdd at the dreadful day, 

It is a perilous vice, this envy. 

Alas, a conning man he dwell may 
In no place well, but fools with him fray. 

But as for that, conning hath no foe 

Save him that nought can , 2 Scripture saith so. 

“I know your virtue and your literature 
By that little conning that I have: 

Ye be maligned sore, I you ensure, 

But ye have craft yourself alway to save. 

It is great scorn to see a misproud knave 
With a clerke 3 than conning is to prate: 

Let them go lose them, in the devil’s date! 

“For albeit that this ’long not to me, 

Yet on my back I bear such lewd dealing: 

Right now I spake with one, I trow, I see — 

But what - a straw ! I may not tell all thing! 

By God, I say there is great heart-burning 
Between the persdn ye wot of and you. 

Alas, I could not deal so with a Jew! 

“I would each man were as plain as I ! 

It is a world , 4 I say, to hear of some: 

I hate this feigning ! fie upon it, fie ! 

A man cannot wot where to be come: 

Ywis I could tell — but humerly, hum! 

I da?e not speak, we be so laid in wait, 

For all our court is full of deceit 

l cape. 2 knows nothing. Scholar. 4 It is a wonder. 



“Now by Saint Francis, that holy man and frere , 1 
I hate these ways against you that they take! 
Were I as you, I would ride them full near. 

And, by my troth, but if an end they make, 

Y et will I say some wordes for your sake 
That shall them anger, I hold thereon a groat: 

For some shall ween be hanged by the throat ! 3 

“I have a stopping oyster 3 in my poke, j 

Trust me, an if it come to a need ! j 

But I am loath for to raise a smoke 
If ye could be otherwise agreed. 

And so I would it were, so God me speed, 

For this may breed to a confusion 
Without God make a good conclusion. 

Nay, see where yonder standeth t’other man ! 

A flattering knave and false he is, God wot; 
The drevil standeth to harken, an he can. 

It were more thrift he bought him a new coat; 
It will not be, his purse is not on float 4 : 

All that he weareth it is borrowed ware, 

His wit is thin, his hood is threadebare. 

6 ‘More could I say, but what this is enow 5 : 

Adew till soon, we shall speak more of this. 

Ye must be ruled as I shall tell you how; 

Amends maybe of that is now amiss. 

And I am yours, sir, so have I bliss. 

In every point that I can do or say: 

Give me your hand, farewell, and have good-day!” 

*friar. a think themselves hanged. 

®that which will stop their mouths. 4 flowing, full 

8 but that this is enough. 





Suddenly, as he departed me fro, 

Came pressing in one in a wonder array. 

Ere I was ware, behind me he said, “BO !” 
Then I, astoned 1 of that sudden fray. 

Start all at once, I liked nothing his play: 

For, if I had not quickly fled the touch, 

He had plucked out the nobles of my pouch. 

He was trussed in a garment strait: 

I have not seen such another page, 

For he could well upon a casket wait; 

His hood all pounced 2 and garded like a cage; 
Light lime-finger! he took none other wage. 
“Harken,” quod he, “lo here mine hand in thine! 
To us welcome thou art, by Saint Quintine. 


“But, by that Lord that is one, two, and three, 

I have an errand to round 3 in your ear . , * 

He told me so, by God, ye may trust me, 

Parde, remember when ye were there, 

For I winked on you - wot ye not where? 

In A loco , I mean juxta B : 

Who is him that is blind and may not see! 

“But to hear the subtilty and the craft. 

As I shall tell you, if ye will hark again . „ . ! 

And when I saw the whoresons would you haft , 4 
To hold mine hand, by God, I had great pain: 

For forthwith there I had him slain, 

Bui? that I dread murder would come out: 

Who dealeth with shrews 6 hath need to look about!” 

^astonished. ^perforated. ®whisper. 4 trick you. Pascals. 




And as he rounded thus in mine ear 
Of false collusion confettered by assent, 

Methought I see lewd fellows here and there 
Come for to slay me of mortall intent 
And, as they came, the shipboard fast I hent , 1 
And thought to leap, and even with that woke. 

Caught pen and ink, and wrote this little book. 

I would therewith no man were miscontent. 

Beseeching you that shall it see or read 
In every point to be indifferent, 

Sith all in substance of slumbering doth proceed. 

; I will not say it is matter indeed, 

But yet oftime such dreams be founde true: 

» Now construe ye what is the residue ! 

Thus endeth the Bouge of Court . 

I Seized. 




Hereafter followeth the Book of 

Compiled by Master Skelton, Poet Laureate 

Pla ce bo! 1 
Who is there, who? 

Di le xi! 2 
Dame Margery. 

Fa, re, my, my. 

Wherefore and why, why? 

For the soul of Philip Sparrow, 

That was, late, slain at Carrow, 8 
Among the Nuns Black. 4 
For that sweet soul’s sake, 

And for all sparrows’ souls 
Set in our bead-rolls, 

Pater noster qui, 

With an Ave Mari , 

And with the corner of a Creed; , 

The more shall be your meed! 

When I remember again 
How my Philip was slain, 

Never half the pain 
Was between you twain, 

Pyramus and Thisbe, 

As then befell to me: 

The beginning of the Office for the Dead at Vespers: “I will 
walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. cxvi. 9). 

2 Ps. cxiv. (Vulgate): “Praise ye [the Lord].” ♦ 

3 A nunnery in the suburbs of Norwich, where Joanna was 
being educated. 

4 Benedictines. 



I wept and I wailed, 

The teares down hailed, 

But nothing it availed 
To call Philip again, 

Whom Gib, our cat, hath slain, 

Gib, I say, our cat 
Worrowed 1 her on that 
Which I loved best. 

It cannot be exprest 
My sorrowful heaviness, 

But all without redress! 

For within that stound , 2 * 
Half slumb’ring in a sound 8 
I fell down to the ground. 

Unneth 4 5 I cast mine eyes 
Toward the cloudy skies ! 

But when I did behold 
My sparrow dead and cold 
No creature but that wold 
Have rued upon me, 

To behold and see 
What heaviness did me pang: 
Wherewith my hands I wrang, 
That my sinews cracked, 

As though I had been racked, 

So pained and so strained 
That no life wellnigh remained. 

I sighed and I sobbed, 

For that I was robbed 
Of my sparrow’s life. 

O maiden, widow, and wife, 

Of what estate 6 ye be, 

Of high or low degree, 

^moment. 8 swoon. 4 With 

5 rank. 




Great sorrow then ye might see, 
And learn to weep at me! 

Such pains did me frete 
That mine heart did beat, 

My visage pale and dead, 

Wan, and blue as lead ! 

The pangs of hateful death 
Wellnigh had stopped my breath! 

Heu , heu , me , 1 
That I am woe for thee! 

Ad Dominum, cum tribularer> clamavi % ; 

Of God nothing else crave I 
But Philip’s soul to keep 
From the marees deep 
Of Acheronte’s well, 

That is a flood of hell; 

And from the great Pluto, 

The prince of endless woe; 

And from foul Alecto, 

With visage black and bio 3 ; 

And from Medusa, that mare , 4 
That like a fiend doth stare; 

And from Megaera’s adders 
For ruffling of Philip’s feathers, 

And from her fiery sparklings 
For burning of his wings; 

And from the smokes sour 
Of Proserpina’s bower; 

And from the dens dark 
Where Cerebus doth bark, 

Whom Theseus did affray. 

Whom Hercules did outray, 

As famous poets say; 

. From that hell-hound * 

Woe, woe is me. 2<fi In my distress, I cried unto the Lord.” 

*livid. *hag. * 



That lieth in chaines bound, 

With ghastly heades three; 

To Jupiter pray we 

That Philip preserved may be! 

Amen, say ye with me ! 

Do mi nusj 

Help now, sweet Jesus! 

Levavi oculos meos in montes . 1 
Would God I had Zenophontes, 

Or Socrates the wise. 

To shew me their device 
Moderately to take 
This sorrow that I make 
For Philip Sparrow’s sake! 

So fervently I shake, 

I feel my body quake ! 

So urgently I am brought 
Into careful thought! 

Like Andromach, Hector’s wife, 

Was weary of her life, 

When she had lost her joy, 

Noble Hector of Troy; 

In like manner also 
Increaseth my deadly woe, 

For my sparrow is go! 

It was so pretty a fool, 

It would sit on a stool, 

And learned after my school 
For to keep his cut,* 

With cc Philip, keep your cut!” 

It had a velvet cap, 

And would sit upon my lap, 

And seek after small wormes, 

*“1 will lift up mine eyes unto the hills” (Ps. cxxi. i, Vulgate). 
2 keep his distance. 


And sometime whitebread-crumbes; 

And, many times and oft, 

Between my breastes soft 
It woulde lie and rest; 

It was proper and prest 1 ! 

Sometime he would gasp 
When he saw a wasp; 

A fly, or a gnat. 

He would fly at that; 

And prettily he would pant 
When he saw an ant! 

Lord, how he would pry 
After a butterfly! 

Lord, how he would hop 
After the gressop ! 

And when I said, “Phip, Phip!” 

Then he would leap and skip, 

And take me by the lip. 

Alas, it will me slo 

That Philip is gone me fro ! 

Si in i qui ta tes . . . 2 
Alas, I was evil at ease ! 

De pro fun dis cla ma W, 3 
When I saw my sparrow die! 

Now, after my dome, 4 
Dame Sulpicia at Rome, 

Whose name regist’red was 
For ever in tables of brass, 

Because she did pass 
In poesy to indite 
And eloquently to write, 

1 pretty and neat. * 

2 “If [thou shouldest mark] iniquities . ...” (Ps. cxxx. 3). 

3 “Out of the depths I cried [unto the Lord]” (Ps. cxxx.). 



Though she would pretend 
My sparrow to commend, 

I trow, she could not amend 
Reporting the virtues all 
Of my sparrow royall. 

For it would come and go, 

And fly so to and fro; 

And on me it would leap 
When I was asleep 
And his feathers shake, 

Wherewith he would make 
Me often for to wake, 

And for to take him in 
Upon my naked skin. 

God wot, we thought no sin: 

What though he crept so low? 

It was no hurt, I trow, 

He did nothing, perde, 

But sit upon my knee! 

Philip, though he were nice , 1 
In him it was no vice! 

Philip might be bold 
And do what he wold: 

Philip would seek and take 
All the fleas black 
That he could there espy 
With his wanton eye. 

0 pe ra . 2 
La, soli, fa, fa, 

Confitebor tibi 3 Domine , in toto corde meo ! a 
Alas, I would rise and go 
r A thousand mile of ground ! 

^wanton, toyish. 

2 “The works [of the Lord are great]” (Ps. cxi. 2). 

3 “I will confess to the Lord with my whole heart” (Ps. cxi. 1). 


If any such might be found 
It were worth an hundred pound 
Of King Croesus’ gold, 

Or of Attalus the old, 

The riche prince of Pergame, 
Whoso list the story to see. 
Cadmus, that his sister sought, 

An he should be bought 
For gold and fee, 

He should over the sea 
To weet if he could bring 
Any of the offspring, 

Or any of the blood. 

But whoso understood 
Of Medea’s art, 

I would I had a part 
Of her crafty magic! 

My sparrow then should be quick. 
With a charm or twain, 

And play with me again! 

But all this is in vain 
Thus for to complain. 

I took my sampler once 
Of purpose, for the nonce. 

To sew with stitches of silk 
My sparrow white as milk. 

That by representation 
Of his image and fashion 
To me it might import 
Some pleasure and comfort. 

For my solace and sport. 

But when I was sewing his beak, 
Methought my sparrow did speak, 
And opened his pretty bill, ♦ 

Saying, “Maid, ye are in will 
Again me for to kill ! 



With that my needle waxed red, 
Methought, of Philip’s blood. 

Mine hair right upstood, 

I was in such a fray 
My speech was taken away. 

I cast down that there was, 

And said, “Alas, alas, 

How cometh this to pass?” 

My fingers, dead and cold, 

Could not my sampler hold: 

My needle and thread 
I threw away for dread. 

The best now that I may 
Is for his soul to pray: 

A porta inferi ... 1 
Good Lord, have mercy 
Upon my sparrow’s soul. 

Written in my bead-roll! 

Au di vi vo cem y 2 
Japhet, Ham, and Shem, 

Ma gni fi cat y 

Shew me the right path 

To the hills of Armony! 

Whereon the boards yet lie 
Of your father’s boat, 

That was sometime afloat; 

And now they lie and rote; 

Let some poets write 
Deucalion’s flood it hight 
But as verily as ye be 
The natural sons three 
Of Noah the patriarch, 

That made that great ark, 

lU From r the gate of hell” -an antiphon in the Mass for the 

2 Another antiphon: “I heard a voice [from heaven say unto me. 
Write, Blessed are the dead]” (Rev. xiv. 13), 


Wherein he had apes and owls, 
Beasts, birds, and fowls, 

That if ye can find 

Any of my sparrow’s kind 

(God send the soul good rest!) 

I would have yet a nest 
As pretty and as prest 
As my sparrow 

But my sparrow did pass 
All sparrows of the wood 
That were since Noah’s flood! 

Was never none so good! 

King Philip of Macedony 
Had no such Philip as I, 

No, no, sir, hardly ! 

Vengeance I ask and cry. 

By way of exclamation, 

On all the whole nation 
Of cattes wild and tame: 

God send them sorrow and shame I 
That cat specially 
That slew so cruelly 
My little pretty sparrow 
That I brought up at Carrow! 

O cat of churlish kind, 1 
The fiend was in thy mind 
When thou my bird untwined 2 ! 

I would thou hadst been blind ! 

The leopards savage. 

The lions in their rage 
Might catch thee in their paws, 
And gnaw thee in their jaws! 

The serpents of Libany 
Might sting thee venomously! 

The dragons with their tongues 

Mature. destroyed. 



Might poison thy liver and lungs ! 

The manticors 1 of the mountains 
Might feed them on thy brains! 

Melanchaetes, that hound 
That plucked Acteon to the ground. 

Gave him his mortal wound, 

Changed to a deer. 

The story doth appear, 

Was changed to an hart: 

So (foul cat that thou art!) 

The selfsame hound 
Might thee confound 
That his own lord bote, 

Might bite asunder thy throat! 

Of Inde the greedy grypes 2 
Might tear out all thy tripes! 

Of Arcady the bears 
Might pluck away thine ears! 

The wild wolf Lycaon* 

Bite asunder thy back bone ! 

Of Etna the burning hill, 

That day and night burneth still, 

Set in thy tail a blaze 
That all the world may gaze 
And wonder upon thee, 

From Ocean the great sea 
Unto the Isles of Orcady, 4 
From Tilbury ferry 
To the plain of Salisbury! 

So traitorously my bird to kill 
That never owed thee evil will ! 

Was never bird in cage 
More gentle of corage 5 

human-headed dragons. 2 griffins. s cf. Ovid, Met . i. 163. 
4 i.e. the Orkneys. inclination. 


In doing his homage 
Unto his sovereign. 

Alas, I say again. 

Death hath departed us twain! 
The false cat hath thee slain; 
Farewell, Philip, adew! 

Our Lord, thy soul rescue! 
Farewell, without restore. 
Farewell, for evermore! 

An it were a Jew, 

It would make one rue. 

To see my sorrow new. 

These villainous false cats 
Were. made for mice and rats. 
And not for birdes small. 

Alas, my face waxeth pale. 
Telling this piteous tale, 

How my bird so fair. 

That was wont to repair. 

And go in at my spair, 1 
And creep in at my gore 1 
Of my gown before, 

Flickering with his wings! 

Alas, my heart it stings, 
Rememb’ring pretty things! 
Alas, mine heart it sleth 
My Philip’s doleful death ! 
When I remember it, 

How prettily it would sit, 

Many times and oft, 

Upon my finger aloft! 

I played with him tittle-tattle, 
And fed him with my spattle, 2 
With his bill between my lips. 

It was my pretty Phips ! 

Openings in her clothes. 2 spittle. 

7 ° 


Many a pretty kuss 1 
Had I of his sweet muss 2 ! 

And now the cause is thus. 

That he is slain me fro, 

To my great pain and woe. 

Of fortune this the chance 
Standeth on variance: 

Oft time after pleasance, 

Trouble and grievance. 

No man can be sure 
Always to have pleasure: 

As well perceive ye may 
How my disport and play 
From me was taken away 
By Gib, our cat savage, 

That in a furious rage 
Caught Philip by the head 
And slew him there stark dead ! 

Kyrie, eleison , 

Christe , eleison, 

Kyrie, eleison l* 

For Philip Sparrow’s soul, 

Set in our bead-roll, 

Let us now whisper 
A Pater noster. 

Lauda , anima me a , Dominuml 4 
To weep with me, look that ye come, 

All manner of birdes in your kind; 

. See none be left behind. 

To mourning look that ye fall 
With dolorous songs funerall, 
r Some to sing, and some to say, 

^kiss. 2 bill. *“ Lord, have mercy,” etc. 

4 “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” (Ps. cxlvi. i, Vulgate). 


Some to weep, and some to pray, 

Every bird in his lay. 

The goldfinch, the wagtail; 

The jangling jay to rail, 

The flecked pie to chatter 
Of this dolorous matter; 

And robin redbreast. 

He shall be the priest 
The requiem mass to sing, 

Softly warbeling, 

With help of the reed sparrow. 

And the chattering swallow, 

This hearse for to hallow; 

The lark with his long toe; 

The spinke , 1 and the martinet also; 

The shoveller with his broad beak; 

The dotterel, that foolish peke, 

And also the mad coot, 

With bald face to toot; 

The fieldfare, and the snite 2 ; 

The crow, and the kite; 

The raven, called Rolfe, 

His plain song to sol-fa; 

The partridge, the quail; 

The plover with us to wail; 

The woodhack , 3 that singeth “chur ” 
Hoarsely, as he had the mur 4 ; 

The lusty chanting nightingale; 

The popinjay 5 to tell her tale, 

That toteth 6 oft in a glass, 

Shall read the Gospel at mass; 

The mavis 7 with her whistle 
Shall read there the Epistle. 

But with a large and a long 
To keep just plain-song, 

x chaffinch. 2 snipe. 3 woodpecker. 4 a cold. 
5 parrot. ®peeps. 7 song-thrush. 


Our chanters shall be the cuckoo, 
The culver, the stockdoo. 

With 46 peewit ” the lapwing, 

The Versicles shall sing. 

The bittern with his bumpe, 

The crane with his trumpe, 

The s^an of Maeander, 

The goose and the gander, 

The duck and the drake, 

Shall watch at this wake; 

The peacock so proud, 

Because his voice is loud, 

And hath a glorious tail. 

He shall sing the Grail 1 ; 

The owl, that is so foul. 

Must help us to howl; 

The heron so gaunt. 

And the cormorant, 

With the pheasant, 

And the gaggling gant, 2 
And the churlish chough; 

The knot and the ruff; 

The barnacle, 3 the buzzard, 

With the wild mallard; 

The divendop to sleep; 

The water-hen to weep; 

The puffin and the teal 
Money they shall deal 
To poore folk at large, 

That shall be their charge; 

The seamew and the titmouse; 

The woodcock with the long nose; 
The throstle with her warbling; 

# The starling with her brabling; 
The rook, with the osprey 

2 gannet. 3 the barnacle- 

^the Graduate . 



That putteth fishes to a fray; 

And the dainty curlew, 

With the turtle most true. 

At this Placebo 
We may not well forgo 
The countering of the coe 1 ; 

The stork also. 

That maketh his nest 
In chimneys to rest; 

Within those walls 
No broken galls 
May there abide 
Of cuckoldry side, 

Or else philosophy 
Maketh a great lie* 

The ostrich, that will eat 
An horseshoe so great, 

In the stead of meat, 

Such fervent heat 
His stomach doth freat; 

He cannot well fly, 

Nor sing tunably, 

Yet at a brayd 2 
He hath well assayed 
To sol-fa above ela. 

Fa, lorell, fa, fa! 

Ne quando 
Male cantando y 3 
The best that we can, 

To make him our bell-man, 

And let him ring the bells. 

He can do nothing else. 

Chanticleer, our cock, * 

Must tell what is of the clock 

‘jackdaw. 2 ata push. Test ever by singing badly. 


By the astrology 
That he hath naturally 
Conceived and caught, 

And was never taught 
By Albumazer 1 
The astronomer, 

Nor by Ptolomy 
Prince of astronomy , 2 
Nor yet by Haly; 

And yet he croweth daily 
And nightly the tides 
That no man abides. 

With Partlot his hen, 

Whom now and then 
He plucketh by the head 
When he doth her tread. 

The bird of Araby, 

That potentially 
May never die, 

And yet there is none 
But one alone; 

A phoenix it is 
This hearse that must bliss 
With aromatic gums 
That cost great sums, 

The way of thurification 
To make a fumigation, 

Sweet of reflare , 3 
And redolent of air, 

This corse for to ’sense 
With great reverence, 

As patriarch or pope 
In a black cope. 

# Whiles he ’senseth the hearse, 

He shall sing the verse, 

*An Arabian of the ninth century. 2 i.e. astrology. t 3 perfume. 



Libera me , 1 
In de la, sol, re, 

Softly bemole 2 

For my sparrow’s soul. 

Pliny sheweth all 
In his Story Natural 3 
What he doth find 
Of the phoenix kind; 

Of whose incineration 
There riseth a new creation 
Of the same fashion 
Without alteration, 

Saving that old age 
Is turned into corage 
Of fresh youth again; 

This matter true and plain. 
Plain matter indeed, 

Who so list to read. 

But for the eagle doth fly 
Highest in the sky, 

He shall be the sub-dean. 

The choir to demean , 4 
As provost principal, 

To teach them their Ordinal; 
Also the noble falcon, 

With the ger-falcon, 

The tarsel gentill, 

They shall mourn soft and still 
In their amice of gray; 

The sacre 5 with them shall say 
Dirtge 6 for Philip’s soul; 

The goshawk shall have a roll 
The choristers to control; 

1<4 Deliver me” - the opening of the Responsory. 

2 B molle, flat. 8 See His tori o Natural is, lib. x., sec. 2. 

Conduct. 6 A hawk. 6 “Direct [my steps]” - another antiphon. 



The lanners and the merlions 1 
Shall stand in their mourning-gowns; 

The hobby and the musket 2 
The censers and the cross shall fet; 

The kestrel in all this wark 
Shall be holy water clerk. 

And now the dark cloudy night 
Chaseth away Phoebus bright. 

Taking his course toward the west, 

God send my sparrow’s soul good rest! 

Requiem aeternum dona eis, DomineD 
Fa, fa, fa, mi, re, re, 
j! por ta in fe ri > 4 
Fa, fa, fa, mi, mi. 

Credo videre bona Domini ,* 

I pray God, Philip to heaven may fly! 

Domine , exaudi orationem me am ! 6 
To heaven he shall, from heaven he came! 

Do mi nus vo bis cum 1 7 
Of all good prayers God send him some ! 

Or emus , 8 

Deus, cui proprium est miser eri et parcere , 9 
On Philip’s soul have pity! 

F or he was a pretty cock. 

And came of a gentle stock, 

And wrapt in a maiden’s smock, 

And cherished full daintily. 

Till cruel fate made him to die: 

Alas, for doleful destiny! 

flittle hawks. 2 the male sparrow-hawk. 

3 “ Grant them eternal rest, O Lord!” 

4 “From the gate of hell.” 

B “I believe to see the goodness of the Lord” (Ps. xxvii. 13). 
a “Lord, hear my prayer!” (Ps. cii.). 

7 “The Lord be with you!” 8 “Let us pray.” 

9 “0 God, whose property it is to be merciful and to spare.” 


But whereto should I 
Longer mourn or cry? 

To Jupiter I call, 

Of heaven imperiall, 

That Philip may fly 
Above the starry sky, 

To tread the pretty wren, 

That is our Lady’s hen : 

Amen, amen, amen! 

Yet one thing is behind, 

That now cometh to mind; 

An epitaph I would have 
For Philip’s grave: 

But for I am a maid. 

Timorous, half afraid. 

That never yet assayed 
Of Helicones well, 

Where the Muses dwell; 
Though I can read and spell, 
Recount, report, and tell 
Of the Tales of Canterbury , 
Some sad stories, some merry; 

As Palamon and Arcet, 

Duke Theseus, and Partlet; 

And the Wife of Bath, 

That worketh much scath 1 
When her tale is told 
Among housewives bold, 

How she controlled 
Her husbands as she wold, 

And them to despise 
In the homeliest wise, 

Bring other wives in thought 
Their husbands to set at nought, 
And though that read have I 


78 Philip sparrow 

Of Gawain and Sir Guy, 

And tell can a great piece 
Of the Golden Fleece , 

How Jason it wan. 

Like a valiant man; 

Of Arthur’s Round Table, 

With his knights commendable, 

And Dame Gaynor, his queen, 

Was somewhat wanton, I ween; 

How Sir Lancelot de Lake 
Many a spear brake 
For his lady’s sake; 

Of Tristram, and King Mark, 

And all the whole wark 
Of Belle Isolde his wife, 

F or whom was much strife; 

Some say she was light, 

And made her husband knight 
Of the common hall. 

That cuckolds men call; 

And of Sir Lybius, 

Named Dysconius 1 ; 

Of Quater Fylz Amund, 2 
And how they were summoned 
To Rome, to Charlemagne, 

Upon a great pain, 

And how they rode each one 
On Bayard Mountalbon; 

Men see him now and then 
In the forest of Arden. 

What though I can frame 
The stories by name 
Of Judas Maccabeus, 

And of Caesar Julius; 
i And of the love between 

*Le Beau Desconnu in Ritson’s Met. Rom. ii. 
The Four Sons of Aymon (Caxton). 



Paris and Vienne 1 * ; 

And of the duke 5 Hannibal, 

That made the Romans all 
Fordread and to quake; 

How Scipion did wake 
The city of Carthage, 

Which by his unmerciful rage 
He beat down to the ground. 

And though I can expound 
Of Hector of Troy , 3 
That was all their joy, 

Whom Achilles slew, 

Wherefore all Troy did rue; 

And of the love so hote 
That made Troilus to dote 
Upon fair Cresseid; 

And what they wrote and said, 

And of their wanton wills 
Pander bare the bills 4 
From one to the other; 

His master’s love to further. 

Sometime a precious thing, 

An ouch , 6 or else a ring; 

From her to him again 
Sometime a pretty chain. 

Or a bracelet of her hair, 

Pray’d Troilus for to wear 
That token for her sake; 

How heartily he did it take, 

And much thereof did make; 

And all that was in vain, 

For she did but feign; 

The story telleth plain, 

He could not optain, 

Though his father were a king, % 

1 Printed by Caxton. deader. 8 As in Lydgate’s Book of Troy. 

4 i.e. billets-doux . 6 A jewel or brooch. 


Y et there was a thing 
That made the male to wring 1 ; 
She made him to sing 
The song of lover’s lay; 

Musing night and day, 

Mourning all alone, 

Comfort had he none, 

For she was quite gone. 

Thus in conclusion, 

She brought him in abusion; 

In earnest and in game 
She was much to blame; 
Disparaged is her fame, 

And blemished is her name, 

In manner half with shame; 
Troilus also hath lost 
On her much love and cost, 

And now must kiss the post; 
Pandarus, that went between, 
Hath won nothing, I ween. 

But light for summer green; 

Y et for a special laud 
He is named Troilus’ bawd; 

Of that name he is sure 
Whiles the world shall ’dure. 

Though I remember the fable 
Of Penelope most stable, 

To her husband most true, 

Yet long-time she ne knew 
Whether he were live or dead; 
Her wit stood her in stead. 

That she was true and just 
For any bodily lust 
To Ulysses her make , 2 
And never would him forsake: 

.e. wrung his withers. 

2 mate. 



Of Marcus Marcellus 1 
A process I could tell us; 

And of Antiochus; 

And of Josephus 
De Antiquit atibus; 

And of Mardocheus, 2 
And of great Ahasuerus, 

And of Vesca his queen. 

Whom he forsook with teen, 

And of Esther his other wife, 

With whom he led a pleasant life; 

Of King Alexander; 

And of King Evander; 

And of Porsenna the great, 

That made the Romans to sweat: 

Though I have enroll’d 
A thousand new and old 
Of these historious tales, 

To fill budgets and males 3 
With books that I have read, 

Yet I am nothing sped, 4 
And can but little skill 
Of Ovid or Virgil, 

Or of Plutarch, 

Or Francis Petrarch, 

Alcseus or Sappho, 

Or such others poets mo, 

As Linus and Homer us, 

Euphorion and Theocritus, 

Anacreon and Arion, 

Sophocles and Philemon, 

Pindarus and Dimonides, 

Philistion and Pherecydes; 

1 M. Claudius Marcellus, conqueror of Syracuse in the Second 
Punic War, and slain by Hannibal. 

2 Mordecai. S bags. 

4 versed . 


These poets of anciente, 

They are too diffuse 1 for me: 

F or, as I tofore have said, 

I am but a young maid. 

And cannot in effect 
My style as yet direct 
With English words elect. 

Our natural tongue is rude, 

And hard to be ennewed 
With polished termes lusty; 

Our language is so rusty, 

So cankered, and so full 
Of fro wards*, and so dull, 

That if I would apply 
To write ornately, 

I wot not where to find 
Terms to serve my mind. 

Gower’s English is old, 

And of no value told; 

His matter is worth gold, 

And worthy to be enroll’d. 

In Chaucer I am sped, 

His Tales I have read: 

His matter is delectable, 

Solacious , 2 and commendable; 

His English well allowed, 

So as it is enprowed, 

For as it is employed, 

There is no English void, 

At those days much commended . 3 
And now men would have amended 
His English, whereat they bark, 

And mar all they wark. 

Chaucer, that famous clerk, 

2 pleasant. s text seems corrupt here. 



His terms were not dark. 

But pleasant, easy, and plains 
No word he wrote in vain. 

Also John Lydgate 
Writeth after an higher rate; 

It is diffuse to find 
The sentence of his mind, 

Yet writeth he in his kind, 

No man that can amend 

Those matters that he hath penned; 

Yet some men find a fault. 

And say he writeth too haut. 

Wherefore hold me excused 
If I have not well perused 
Mine English half abused; 

Though it be refused, 

In worth I shall it take, 

And fewer wordes make. 

But, for my sparrow’s sake, 

Yet as a woman may. 

My wit I shall assay 
An epitaph to write 
In Latin plain and light. 

Whereof the elegy 
Followeth by and by: 

Flos volucrum formose > valel 
Philippe , sub isto 
M armor e jam recubas y 
Qui mihi earns eras . 

Semper erunt nitido 
Radiantia sidera coelo ; 

Impressusque meo 
Pec fore semper eris . 1 

*Lovely flower of a bird, farewell! Philip, beneath that marble 
now you lie* you who were dear to me. Ever in the bright sky will 
there be shining stars; and ever will you be engraven on my heart. 


Per me laurigerum 
Britonum Skeltonida Vatem 
Haec cecinisse licet 
Ficta sub imagine texta. 
Cujus eris volucris , 
Praestanti corpore virgo: 
Candida Nais erat> 
Formosior ista Joanna est; 
Docta Corinnafuit, 

Sed magis ista sapit . 1 * 

Bien men souient .*■ 


Beati im ma cu la ti in via , 3 
0 gloriosa foemina ! 4 
Now mine whole imagination 
And studious meditation 
Is to take this commendation 
In this consideration 5 
And under patient toleration 
Of that most goodly maid 
That Placebo hath said, 

And for her sparrow prayed 
In lamentable wise, 

Now will I enterprise, 

Through the grace divine 
Of the Muses nine, 

Her beauty to commend, 

If Arethusa will send 

1 Through me, Skelton, Poet of Britain, may this be sung 
under an assumed character, whose [i.e. my] bird thou shalt be; 
maiden of lovely form. Beautiful was Nais, lovelier is this Joanna, 
Corinna w£s learned, but she is wiser. 

a I remember it well. 

^“Blessed are the undefiled in the way” (Ps« cxix. i). 

4 0 glorious woman! 


Me influence to indite, 

And with my pen to write; 

If Apollo will promise 
Melodiously to it devise 
His tunable harp strings 
With harmony that sings 
Of princes and of kings 
And of all pleasant things, 

Of lust and of delight. 

Thorough his godly might; 

To whom be the laud ascribed 
That my pen hath enbibed 
With the aureate droppes. 

As verily my hope is. 

Of Tagus, that golden flood, 
That passeth all earthly good; 
And as that flood doth pass 
All floods that ever was 
With his golden sands, 

Who so that understands 
Cosmography, and the streams 
And the floods in strange reams, 
Right so she doth excede 
All other of whom we read, 
Whose fame by me shall spread 
Into Persia and Mede , 1 
From Britons’ Albion 
To the Tower of Babylon. 

I trust it is no shame. 

And no man will me blame, 
Though I register her name 
In the court of Fame; 

For this most goodly flower, 
This blossom of fresh colour. 

So Jupiter me succour, 

J Media. 



She flourisheth new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac dark ate gemma ^ 

0 gloriosa foemina, 

Retribue servo tuo } vivifica me! 2 
Labia mea laudabunt te . 8 

But enforced am I 
Openly to ascry, 

And to make an outcry 
Against odious Envy, 

That evermore will lie, 

And say cursedly;, 

With his leathern eye. 

And cheekes dry; 

With visage wan, 

As swart as tan; 

His bones crake. 

Lean as a rake; 

His gummes rusty 
Are full unlusty 4 ; 

His heart withall 
Bitter as gall; 

His liver, his lung 
With anger is wrung; 

His serpent’s tongue 
That many one hath stung; 
He frowneth ever; 

He laugheth never, 

Even nor morrow. 

But other men’s sorrow 
Causeth him to grin 
And rejoice therein; 

No sleep can him catch, 
But ever doth watch, 

J With this twin brightness. 

*“Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live.” 
3<< My lips shall praise thee” (Ps. lsiii. 3). Unpleasant. 


He is so bete 1 

With malice, and frete 2 

With anger and ire, 

His foul desire 
Will suffer no sleep 
In his head to creeps 
His foul semblant 
All displeasant; 

When others are glad, 
Then is he sad; 

Frantic and mad, 

His tongue never still 
For to say ill, 

Writhing and wringing, 
Biting and stinging; 

And thus this elf 
Consumeth himself. 
Himself doth slo 
With pain and woe! 

This false Envy 
Sayeth that I 
Use great folly 
For to indite. 

And for to write, 

And spend my time 
In prose and rime, 

For to express 
The nobleness 
Of my mistress, 

That causeth me 
Studious to be 
To make a relation 
Of her commendation. 

And there again 
Envy doth complain, 

And hath disdain; 

inflamed. 2 gnawed. 


But yet certain 
I will be plain, 

And my style ’dress 
To this process. 

Now Phoebus me ken 
To sharp my pen, 

And lead my fist 
As him best list. 

That I may say 
Honour alway 
Of womankind ! 

Truth doth me bind 
And loyalty 
Ever to be 
Their true bedell, 1 
To write and tell 
How women excel 
In nobleness; 

As my mistress, 

Of whom I think 
With pen and ink 
For to compile 
Some goodly style; 

For this most goodly flower. 

This blossom of fresh colour. 

So Jupiter me succour, 

She flourish eth new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac claritate gemina, 

0 gloriosa foemina^ 

Legem pone mihi , domzna, in viam justificaiionum 
tuaruml a 

Quemadmodum desiderat cervusad f antes aquarum . 5 
Servitor, beadsman. 

24 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes!” 

3 “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks” (Ps, xlii.). 



How shall I report 
All the goodly sort 
Of her features clear, 

That hath none earthly peer? 

The favour of her face 
Ennewed all with grace, 

Comfort, pleasure, and solace. 

Mine heart doth so embrace, 

And so hath ravished me 
Her to behold and see, 

That in wordes plain 
I cannot me refrain 
To look on her again: 

Alas, what should I feign? 

It were a pleasant pain 
With her aye to remain. 

Her eyen gray and steep 
Causeth mine heart to leaps 
With her brows bent 
She may well represent 
Fair Lucres, as I ween, 

Or else fair Polexene, 

Or else Calliope, 

Or else Penelope: 

For this most goodly flower, 

* This blossom of fresh colour, 

So Jupiter me succour. 

She flourisheth new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac daritate gemma, 

O gloriosa foemina, 

Memor esto verhi tut servo tuol 1 
Servus tuus sum ego . 2 # 

x “Remember thy word unto thy servant!” (Ps. cxh?. 49). 

3 “I am thy servant ” (Ps. cxix. 125). 



The Indy sapphire blue 
Her veins doth ennew; 

The orient pearl so clear, 
The whiteness of her leer 1 ; 
Her lusty ruby ruddies 2 
Resemble the rose buddes; 
Her lips soft and merry 
Enbloomed like the cherry: 
It were an heavenly bliss 
Her sugar’d mouth to kiss. 

Her beauty to augment, 

Dame Nature hath her lent 
A wart 3 upon her cheek, - 
Who so list to seek 
In her visage a scar, - 
That seemeth from afar 
Like to the radiant star, 

All with favour fret, 

So properly it is set! 

She is the violet, 

The daisy delectable. 

The columbine commendable, 

The jelofer amiable: 

For this most goodly flower, 

This blossom of fresh colour, 

So Jupiter me succour, 

She flourisheth new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac claritate gemma > 

0 gloriosa foemina, 

Bonitatem fecisti cum servo tuo } domina / 

Et ex praecordiis sonant praeconia I s 

Complexion. 2 blushes. 3 mole (probably). 

*“Thou-hast dealt bountifully with thy servant, Lord” (Ps. cxix.). 
6 “And from the heart sound praises!” 


And when I perceived 
Her wart and conceived. 

It cannot be denay’d 
But it was well conveyed 
And set so womanly. 

And nothing wantonly. 

But right conveniently, 

And full congruently, 

As Nature could devise, 

In most goodly wise! 

Who so list behold, 

It maketh lovers bold 
To her to sue for grace. 

Her favour to purchase; 

The scar upon her chin, 

Enhached on her fair skin, 

Whiter than the swan, 

It would make any man 
To forget deadly sin 
Her favour to win! 

For this most goodly flower, 

This blossom of fresh colour, 

So Jupiter me succour, 

She flourished - ! new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac claritate gemlna , 

0 gloriosa foemina. 

Defeat in salutaiione tua anima mea; x 
Quid petis filio y mater dulcissimaf 2 

Soft, and make no din, 

For now I will begin 
To have in remembrance 
Her goodly dalliance. 

And her goodly pastance*: • 

i“My soul fainteth after thy salvation” (Ps. cxix. 81J. 
*“What seek you for your son, sweetest mother?” S pastime, 


So sad and so demure. 

Behaving her so sure, 

With words of pleasure 
She would make to the lure 1 
And any man convert 
To give her his whole heart 
She made me sore amazed 
Upon her when I gazed, 

Methought mine heart was crazed, 

My eyen were so dazed! 

F or this most goodly flower. 

This blossom of fresh colour, 

So Jupiter me succour, 

She flourisheth new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac claritate gemina , 

0 gloriosa foemina, 

Quomodo dilexi legem tuam , dominal 2 
Recedant vetera , nova sunt omnia . 3 

And to amend her tale, 4 
When she list to avail, 5 
And with her fingers smale, 

And hands soft as silk 
Whiter than the milk, 

That are so quickly veined, 

Wherewith my hand she stained. 

Lord, how I was pained ! 

Unneth I me refrained! 

How she me had reclaimed, 

And me to her retained, 

Embracing therewithall 
Her goodly middle small 

a attracf ■ - a metaphor from falconry. 

2 “0 how I love thy law, O Lord!” (Ps. cxix. 97). 

s “ 01 d tilings are passed away, all things are new” (2 Cor. v. 17). 

4 to make up her list of perfections. 5 i.e. avail herself. 


With sides long and strait! 

To tell you what conceit 
I had then in a trice, 

The matter were too nice 1 — 

And yet there was no vice. 

Nor yet no villany, 

But only fantasy ! 

F or this most goodly flower. 

This blossom of fresh colour. 

So J upiter me succour, 

She flourished! new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac claritate gemma , 

0 gloriosa foemma 3 
Iniquos odio habui / 2 
Non calumnientur me super bi . 3 

But whereto should I note 
How often did I toot 
Upon her pretty foot? 

It rased * mine heart-root 
To see her tread the ground 
With heeles short and round ! 

She is plainly express 
Egeria, the goddess* 

And like to her image, 
Emportured with corage, 

A lovers’ pilgrimage; 

There is no beast savage, 

Ne no tiger so wood , 5 
But she would change his mood, 
Such relucent grace 
Is formed in her face ! 

For this most goodly flower, 

delicate. 2 “I hate vain thoughts!” (Ps. cxix. 

3 “Let not the proud oppress me” (Ps. cxix. 122). 

4 bruised. 5 mad. 



This blossom of fresh colour, 

So Jupiter me succour, 

She flourished! new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac claritate gemina , 

0 gloriosa foemina^ 

Mirabllia testimonia tua ! 1 

Sicui novellas plant ationes in juventute sua . 2 

So goodly as she dresses, 

So properly she presses 
The bright golden tresses 
Of her hair so fine. 

Like Phoebus’ beames shine! 

Whereto should I disclose 
The gartering of her hose? 

It is for to suppose 
How that she can wear 
Gorgeously her gear; 

Her fresh 3 habiliments 
With other implements 
To serve for all intents. 

Like Dame Flora, queen 
Of lusty summer green: 

F or this most goodly flower, 

This blossom of fresh colour, 

So Jupiter me succour. 

She flourisheth new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac claritate gemina , 

O gloriosa foemina y 

Clamavi in toto corde , exudi me / 4 

Misericordia tua magna est super me . 5 

1<4 Wonderful are thy testimonies!” (Ps. cxix. 129). 

2 “Tharour sons may be as plants grown up in their youth” 
(Ps. cxliv. 12). 3 elegant. 

4 “I havd 5 cried with my whole heart, hear me!” (Ps. cxix. 145). 
6 ‘ e Great is thy mercy towards me” (Ps. Ixxxvi. 13). 



Her kirtle so goodly laced, 

And under that Is braced 1 
Such pleasures that I may 
Neither write nor say! 

Yet though I write with Ink, 

No man can let me think. 

For thought hath liberty. 

Thought is frank and free; 

To think a merry thought 
It cost me little nor nought. 

Would God mine homely style 
Were polished with the file 
Of Cicero’s eloquence, 

To praise her excellence! 

For this most goodly flower, 

This blossom of fresh colour, 

So Jupiter me succour, 

She flourisheth new and new 
In beauty and virtue; 

Hac clarit ate gemina , 

O gloriosa foemina , 

Principe s persecuti sunt me gratis ! 2 
Omnibus consider atis, 

Paradisus voluptaiis 
Haec virgo est dulcissima . 8 

My pen it is unable, 

My hand it is unstable, 

My reason rude and dull 
To praise her at the full; 

Goodly Mistress Jane, 

Sober, demure Diane; 

Jane this mistress hight, 

x ready. • 

2 “Princes have persecuted me without cause” (Ps. cxix. 161). 
3 With all things considered, of heavenly pleasures* this girl is 
the sweetest. 



The lode-star of delight, 

Dame Venus of all pleasure, 

The well of worldly treasure ! 

She doth exceed and pass 
In prudence Dame Pallas; 

For this most goodly flower, 

This blossom of fresh colour. 

So Jupiter me succour, 

She flourished! new and new 
In beauty and virtue: 

Hac daritate gemma , 

0 gloriosa foemina! 

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine! 
With this psalm, Domine , prohasti me y 2 
Shall sail over the sea, 

With Tibi , Domine y commendamu$y % 

On pilgrimage to Saint James, 4 
For shrimpes, and for pranes, 5 
And for stalking cranes! 

And where my pen hath offended, 

1 pray you it may be amended 
By discreet consideration 

Of your wise reformation, 

I have not offended, I trust, 

If it be sadly discust. 

It were no gentle guise 
This treatise to despise 
Because I have written and said 
Honour of this fair maid. 

Wherefore should I be blamed. 

That I Jane have named, 

And famously proclaimed? 

, a “Give them eternal rest, O Lord.” 

2 “0 Lord, thou hast searched me.” 

^We commend ourselves to thee, O Lord.” 
4 i,e. of Compostella. 5 prawns. 



She is worthy to be enrolled 
With letters of gold. 

Car elle vault . 1 

Per me laurigerum Britmum Skelton Ida vatem 
Laudibus eximiis merito haec redimita puella est 
Formosam cecini , qua ?ion formosior ulla est; 

Formosam potius quam commendaret Homerus . 

Sic juvat interdum rigidos recreare labor es^ 

Nec minus hoc titulo tersa Minerva me a est , 2 

Rien que pi ay sere. 

Thus endeth the Book of Philip Sparrow . 

J For she is worthy. 

2 The general sense of the above I take to be as follows: “Through 
me, Skelton, Laureate of Britain, this girl is deservedly honoured 
with praise. Lovely I called her, than whom none is more lovely; 
none so fair that Homer would rather praise. So it delights me, 
from time to time, to renew stern toil [?], nor is my art less pure 
than this title.” 

Hereafter followeth the Book called 

The Tunning of Elinor Rumming , by Skelton Laureate 

Tell you I chill , 1 
If that ye will 
A while be still, 

Of a comely Jill 
That dwelt on a hill: 

But she is not gryl , 2 
For she is somewhat sage 
And well worn in age: 

For her visage 
It would assuage 
A man’s courage. 

Her loathly lere 3 
Is nothing clear, 

But ugly of cheer, 

Droopy and drowsy, 

Scurvy and lowsy, 

Her face all bowsy, 

Comely crinkled, 

Woundrously wrinkled, 

Like a roast pig’s ear, 

Bristled with hair. 

Her lewd lips twain, 

They slaver, men sayne, 

Like a ropy rain, 

A gummy glaire . 4 
She is ugly fair: 

Her nose somedele hooked. 

And camously crooked , 5 
Never stopping, * 

But ever dropping; 

.e. Ichwill. ^fierce. S skin. 4 viscous matter. 5 i.e. snub-nosed. 



Her skin, loose and slack, 

Grained like a sack; 

With a crooked back. 

Her eyen gowndy 1 
Are full unsowndy, 

For they are bleared; 

And she gray haired. 

Jawed like a jetty; 

A man would have pi tty 
To see how she is gummed, 
Fingered and thumbed, 

Gently jointed, 

Greased and annointed 
Up to the knuckels; 

The bones of her huckels 2 
Like as they were with buckels 
Together made fast. 

Her youth is far past! 

Footed like a plane, 

Legged like a crane, 

And yet she will jet 
Like a jollivet , 3 
In her furred flocket , 4 
And gray russet rocket , 3 
With simper and cocket. G 
Her hood of Lincoln green 
It has been hers, I ween, 

More than forty year; 

And so doth it appear, 

For the green bare threades 
Look like sere weedes, 

Withered like hay. 

The wool worn away. 

And yet, I dare say, 

* She thinketh herself gay 

x full of matter. 2 hips. * gay young thing. 

4 cloak with 'sleeves. E jumper or dress. 6 coquetry. 


6 goose. 


Upon the holy day 
When she doth her array 
And girdeth in her geets 1 
Stitched and pranked 2 with pleats; 

Her kirtle, Bristol-red, 

With clothes upon her head 
That weigh a sow of lead, 

Writhen in wondrous wise 
After the Saracen’s guise , 3 
With a whim-wham 4 
Knit with a trim-tram 
Upon her brain-pan; 

Like an Egyptian 5 
Capped about. 

When she goeth out 
Herself for to shew, 

She driveth down the dew 
With a pair of heeles 
As broad as two wheeles; 

She hobbles as a gose 6 
With her blanket hose, 

Her shoon smeared with tallow. 

Greased upon dirt 
That bawdeth 7 her skirt. 


And this comely dame, 

I understand, her name 
Is Elinor Rumming, 

At home in her wonning 8 ; 

And as men say 
She dwelt in Surrey, 

In a certain stead 9 

Beside Leatherhead. * 

2 decked. 3 fashion. 4 trinket. • 5 gipsy, 

’befouls. 8 dwelling. 9 place. 



She is a tonnish gib , 1 
The devil and she be sib , 2 

But to make up my tale. 

She breweth nappy ale, 

And maketh thereof pot-sale 
To travellers, to tinkers, 

To sweaters, to s winkers. 

And all good ale-drinkers. 
That will nothing spare 
But drink till they stare 
And bring themselves bare. 
With “ Now away the mare ! 
And let us slay care.” 

As wise as an hare! 

Come who so will 
To Elinor on the hill 
With “Fill the cup, fill!” 

And sit there by still, 

Early and late. 

Thither cometh Kate, 

Cisly, and Sare, 

With their legs bare, 

And also their feet 
Hardely 3 full unsweet; 

With their heeles dagged , 4 
Their kirtles all to-jagged, 
Their smockes all to-ragged, 
With titters and tatters, 

Bring dishes and platters, 

With all their might running 
To Elinor Rumming 
To have of her tunning: 

She lendeth them on the same, 
And thus beginneth the game. 

*a beery old cat. 

2 akin. 

Assuredly. 4 bemired. 



Some wenches come unlaced. 

Some housewives come unbraced, 

With their naked paps, 

That flips and flaps; 

It wigs and it wags 
Like tawny saffron bags, 

A sort of foul drabs 
All scurvy with scabs; 

Some be flybitten, 

Some skewed as a kitten; 

Some with a shoe-clout 
Bind their heads about; 

Some have no hair-lace, 

Their locks about their face, 

Their tresses untrussed 
All full of unlust 1 ; 

Some look strawry, 

Some cawry-mawry: 

F ull untidy tegs, 

Like rotten eggs. 

Such a lewd sort 
To Elinor resort 
From tide to tide. 

Abide, abide! 

And to you shall be told 
How her ale is sold 
To Maud and to Mold . 2 


Some have no money 
That thither come 
For their ale to pay. 

That is a shrewd aray 3 ! 

Elinor sweared, “Nay, * 

Y e shall not bear away 

^unsavouriness 2 Molly (perhaps). s a bad case. 



Mine ale for nought, 

By Him that me bought!” 

With “Hey, dog, hey! 

Have these hogs away!” 

With “Get me a staffe, 

The swine eat my draffe 1 ! 

Strike the hogs with a club, 

They have drunk up my swilling-tub !” 
For, be there never so much press, 
These swine go to the high dais. 

The sow with her pigs. 

The boar his tail wrigs, 

His rump also he frigs 2 
Against the high bench ! 

With, “Fo, there’s a stench! 

Gather up, thou wench; 

Seest thou not what is fall 3 ? 

Take up dirt and all, 

And bear out of the hall: 

God give it ill preving , 4 
Cleanly as evil ’chieving!” 

But let us turn plain, 

Where we left again. 

For as ill a patch as that 
The hens run in the mashvat; 

For they go to roost 
Straight over the ale-joust , 5 
And dung, when it comes, 

In the ale tuns . 6 
Then Elinor taketh 
The mash-bowl, and shaketh 
The hens’ dung away, 

And skimmeth it into a tray 
m Whereas the yeast is, 

%Iiog~wash. * Scratches. 3 befallen. 

4 a bad end. 5 joist. e tumbles. 


With her mangy fistes: 

And sometime she blens 1 
The dung of her hens 
And the ale together. 

And sayeth “Gossip, come hither. 
This ale shall be thicker. 

And flower the more quicker 5 
For I may tell you 
I learned it of a Jew 
When I began to brew, 

And I have found it true. 

Drink now while it is new: 

An ye may it brook, 

It shall make you look 
Y ounger than ye be 
Yeares two or three, 

For ye may prove it by me. 
Behold,” she said, “and see 
How bright I am of ble 1 ! 

I am not cast away. 

That can my husband say; 

When we kiss and play 
In lust and in liking 
He calleth me his whiting. 

His mulling and his miting, 

His nobbes and his coney, 

His sweeting and his honey. 

With ‘Bass, 3 my pretty bonny, 
Thou art worth goods and money 
Thus make I my fellow fonny, 4 
Till that he dream and dronny 6 : 
For, after all our sport, 

Then will he rout 6 and snort: 
Then sweetly together we lie 
As two pigges in a sty.” 

Complexion.. - A : ; V ’Kiss me. 

5 drone. 6 snore. 


To cease meseemeth best, 
And of this tale to rest, 

And for to leave this letter 
Because it is no better, 

And because it is no sweeter; 
We will no further rime 
Of it at this time, 

But we will turne plain 
Where we left again. 


Instead of coin and money 
Some bring her a coney. 

And some a pot with honey, 

Some salt, and some a spoon, 

Some their hose, and some their shoon 
Some run a good trot 
With a skillet or a pot; 

Some fill their pot full 
Of good Lemster wool: 

An housewife of trust. 

When she is a- thirst, 

Such a web can spin, 

Her thrift is full thin. 

Some go straight thither. 

Be it slaty 1 or slither: 

They hold the highway, 

They care not what men say, 

Be that as be may. 

Some, loth to be espied, 

Start in at the back-side 
© Over the hedge and pale, 

And all for the good ale. 

x miry. 


Some run till they sweat, 

Bring with them malt or wheat. 

And Dame Elinor entreat 
To birl 1 them of the best. 

Then cometh another guest: 

She sweared by the rood of rest 
Her lippes are so dry 
Without drink she must die, 
“Therefore fill it by and by, 

And have here a peck of rye!” 

Anon cometh another, 

As dry as the other. 

And with her doth bring 
Meal, salt, or other thing, 

Her harvest girdle, her wedding-ring, 
To pay for her scot 
As cometh to her lot. 

One bringeth her husband’s hood 
Because the ale is good; 

Another brought her his cap 
To offer to the ale-tap, 

With flax and with tow; 

And some brought sour dough 
With “Hey” and with “Ho! 

Sit we down a row. 

And drink till we blow. 

And pipe ‘Tirly Tirlow!’ ” 

Some laid to pledge 
Their hatchet and their wedge. 

Their hekell 2 and their reel, 

Their rock , 3 their spinning-wheel; 
And some went so narrow # 

They laid to pledge their wharrow, 


them out. 2 flas-comb. 3 distaff. 


Their ribskin 1 and their spindle, 
Their needle and their thimble: 
Here was scant thrift 
When they made such a shift* 
Their thirst was so great 
They asked never for meat, 

But drink, still drink, 

And “Let the cat wink, 

Let us wash our gummes 
From the dry crummes!” 


Some for very need 
Laid down a skein of thread, 
And some a skein of yarn; 

Some brought from the barA 
Both beans and peas, 

Small chaffer doth ease 
Sometime, now and than; 
Another there was that ran 
With a good brass-pan, 

Her colour was full wan; 

She ran in all haste, 

Unbraced and unlaced, 

Tawny, swart, and sallow 
Like a cake of tallow: 

I swear by all hallow 2 
It was a stale 3 to take 
The devil in a brake 4 ! 

And then came halting Joan, 
And brought a gambone 6 
Of bacon that was reasty: 

But, Lord, as she was testy, 

apron (?). 2 all saints. 8 lure. 4 trap. 



Angry as a waspy ! 

She began to gape and gaspy. 

And bade Elinor go bet 1 
And fill in good met 2 ; 

Another brought a spick 
Of a bacon flick , 3 
Her tongue was very quick 
But she spake somewhat thick: 

Her fellow did stammer and stut. 

But she was a foul slut, 

For her mouth foamed 
And her belly groaned: 

Joan said she had eaten a fiest . 4 
“By Christ,” said she, “thou best, 

I have as sweet a breath 
As thou, with shameful death !” 

Then Elinor said, “Ye calettes , 5 
I shall break your palettes , 8 
Without ye now cease!” 

And so was made the peace. 

Then thither came drunken Alice, 

And she was full of tales, 

Of tidings in Wales, 

And of Saint James in Gales , 7 
And of the Portingales , 8 
With “Lo, gossip, ywis, 

Thus and thus it Is : 

There hath been great war 
Between Temple Bar 
And the Cross in Cheap, 

And there came an heap 
Of mill-stones in a rout ...” 

She speaketh thus in her snout, 

x hurry up. ^measure. 3 flitch. 4 fajrt. 

5 jades. 8 pates. 7 Galicia. 8 Portuguese. 


Snivelling in her nose 
As though she had the pose . 1 
“Lo, here is an old tippet , 2 
An ye will give me a sippet 
Of your stale ale, 

God send you good sale!” 

And as she was drinking 
She fell in a winking 
With a barlichood , 3 
She pissed where she stood. 

Then began she to weep, 

And forthwith fell asleep. 

Elinor took her up 
And blessed her with a cup 
Of new ale in corns 4 : 

Alice found therein no thorns, 

But supped it up at ones , 5 
She found therein no bones 


Now in cometh another rabble: 
First one with a ladle, 

Another with a cradle, 

And with a side-saddle: 

And there began a fabble , 6 
A clattering and babble 
Of foolish Philly’ 

That had a foal with Willy, 

With “Jayst you!” and “Gup gilly 8 !” 
She could not lie stilly. 

Then came in a jennet® 

And swore, “By Saint Bennet, 

Catarrh. 2 hood. 3 a drunken rage. 

4 Simply, new ale. 6 once. jabbering. 

’Phillis. 8 young mare. ®little horse. 




8 poorly. 

I drank not this sennet 1 
A draught to my pay 2 ! 

Elinor, I thee pray 
Of thine ale let us essay, 

And have here a pilch of gray 3 : 

I wear skins of coney , 4 
That causeth I look so donny 5 !” 

Another then did hitch her. 

And brought a pottle-pitcher , 6 
A tonnel, and a bottle, 

But she had lost the stopple: 

She cut off her shoe-sole, 

And stopped therewith the hole. 

Among all the blimmer 7 
Another brought a skimmer, 

A frying-pan, and a slicer: 

. Elinor made the price 
For good ale each wit. 

Then start in mad Kit 
That had little wit: 

She seemed somedele sick 
And brought a penny chick 
To Dame Elinor 
For a draught of liquor. 

Then Margery Milkduck 
Her kirtle she did uptuck 
An inch above her knee 
Her legs that ye might see; 

But they were sturdy and stubbed, 
Mighty pestles and clubbed, 

Satisfaction. 3 skin-cloak. 

6 a two-quart pitcher. 7 din. 

# 4 rabbit. 


As fair and as white 
As the foot of a kite: 

She was somewhat foul. 
Crooked-necked like an owl ; 

And yet she brought her fees, 

A cantel of Essex cheese. 

Was well a foot thick 
Full of maggots quick: 

It was huge and great. 

And mighty strong meat 
For the devil to eat: 

It was tart and pungete ! 1 

Another set of sluts: 

Some brought walnuts, 

Some apples, some pears. 

Some brought their clipping shears, 
Some brought this and that, 

Some brought I wot n’ere what; 
Some brought their husband’s hat, 
Some puddings and links, 

Some tripes that stinks. 

But of all this throng 
One came them among. 

She seemed half a leech, 

And began to preach 
Of the Tuesday in the week 
When the mare doth kick, 

Of the virtue of an unset leek, 

Of her husband’s breek; 

With the feathers of a quail 
She could to Bordeaux sail; 

And with good ale barme 
She could make a charme 
To help withal a stitch: 

She seemed to be a witch. 

1 pungent. 



Another brought two goslings 
That were noughty froslings 
She brought them in a wallet, 

She was a comely callet 2 : 

The goslings were untied, 

Elinor began to chide, 

“They be wretchocks 3 thou hast brought, 
They are sheer shaking nought!” 


Maude Ruggy thither skipped: 

She was ugly hipped, 

And ugly thick lipped. 

Like an onion sided, 

Like tan leather hided: 

She had her so guided 
Between the cup and the wall 
That she was there withall 
Into a palsy fall: 

With that her head shaked. 

And her handes quaked. 

One’s head would have asked 
To see her naked. 

She drank so of the dregs, 

The dropsy was in her legs ; 

Her face glist’ring like glass, 

All foggy fat she was: 

She had also the gout 
In all her joints about; 

Her breath was sour and stale, 

And smelled all of ale: 

Such a bedfellaw 

Would make one cast his craw 4 ! 

Worthless frost-bitten things. ' 2 jade. 

3 the smallest of the brood. * 4 vomit. 


1 14 

But yet for all that 
She drank on the mashvat. 

There came an old ribibe 1 : 

She halted of a kibe , 2 
And had broken her shin 
At the threshold coming in, 

And fell so wide open 
That one might see her token, 

The devil thereon be wroken 3 ! 

What need all this be spoken? 

She yelled like a calf. 

“Rise up, on God’s half!” 

Said Elinor Rumming, 

“I beshrew thee for thy coming!” 

And as she at her did pluck, 

“Quack, quack!” said the duck 
In that lampatram’s lap; 

With “Fie, cover thy shap 
With some flip flap!” 

“God give it ill hap,” 

Said Elinor, “for shame!” — 

Like an honest dame. 

Up she start, half lame, 

And scantly could go 
For pain and for woe. 

In came another dant, 

With a goose and a gant: 

She had a wide weasant , 4 
She was nothing pleasant. 

Necked like an elephant; 

It was a bulliphant, 

A greedy cormorant. 

Another brought her garlic heads, 
m Another brought her beads 
(Of jet or of coal) 

+ To offer to the ale pole. 

J crone. 2 blister. 3 wrecked. 4 windpipe. 


Some brought a wimble, 

Some brought a thimble, 

Some brought a silk lace, 

Some brought a pincase, 

Some her husband’s gown, 

Some a pillow of down. 

Some of the napery; 


And all this shift they make 
For the good ale sake. 

“A straw!” said Bely, “stand utter , 2 
For we have egges and butter, 

And of pigeons a pair.” 

Then start forth a fizgig , 4 
And she brought a boar pig, 

The flesh thereof was rank. 

And her breath strongly stank; 

Yet, ere she went, she drank, 

And gat her great thank 
Of Elinor for her ware 
That she thither bare 
To pay for her share. 

Now truly, to my thinking, 

This is a solemn drinking! 


“Soft!” quod one hight Sybil, 

“And let me with you bibble.” 

She sat down in the place 
With a sorry face 
Whey-wormed about. 

Garnished was her snout * 

*A line missing. 2 stand back. * 

8 A line missing. 4 a light wench. 


With here and there a puscull 1 
Like a scabbed muscull. 2 
“This ale/’ said she, “is noppy; 

Let us suppe and soppy 
And not spill a droppy, 

For, so may I hoppy, 3 
It cooleth well my croppy. 4 

“Dame Elinor,” said she, 

“Have here is for me — 

A clout of London pins!” 

And with that she begins 
The pot to her pluck 
And drank a “good-luck.” 

She swinged up a quart 
At once for her part: 

Her paunch was so puffed, 

And so with ale stuffed, 

Had she not hied apace 
She had defiled the place. 

Then began the sport 
Among that drunken sort. 5 
“Dame Elinor,” said they, 

“Lend here a cock of hay 
To make all thing clean — 

Ye wot well what we mean !” 

But, sir, among all 
That sat in that hall 
There was a prickmedenty 6 
Sat like a sainty 
And began to painty 7 
As though she would fainty: 

She made it as coy 
Asa legedemoyi 

l pimple # S muscle. 3 have good hap. 

8 set. 6 a pernickety one* 7 feign. 

4 gullet. 



She was not half so wise 
As she was peevish nise . 1 
She said never a word. 

But rose from the board 
And called for our dame, 

Elinor by name. 

We supposed, ywis, 

That she rose to piss: 

But the very ground 
Was for to compound 
With Elinor in the spence,® 

To pay for her expence. 

“I have no penny nor groat 
To pay,” she said, “God wote, 

For washing of my throat. 

But my beads of amber 
Bear them to your chamber.” 

Then Elinor did them hide 
Within her beddes side. 

But some then sat right sad 
That nothing had 
There of their awn, 

Neither gilt nor pawn 2 3 : 

Such were there many 
That had not a penny, 

But, when they should walk, 

Were fain with a chalk 
To score on the balk , 4 
Or score on the tail: 

God give it ill hail!® 

For my fingers itch, 

I have written too mich 
Of this mad mumming 
Of Elinor Rumming ! % 

2 s tore-room, 3 Neither money no» pledge. 

4 board. 5 ill-health. 



Thus endeth the geste 1 
Of this worthy feast. 

Quod Skelton, Laureate, 
Laureati Skeltonidis in despectu 


Quamvis insams, quamvis marcescis inanis, 

Invide , cantamus: haec loca plena jocis . 3 

Bien men souvient. 

Omnes foeminaes, quae nimis bibulae sunt, vel quae sordida 
labe squaloris , aut qua spurca foeditatis macula, aut verbosa 
loquacitate notantur, poeta invitat ad audiendum hunc libellum , 
etc . 4 5 

Ebria, squalida , sordida foemina, prodiga verbis , 

Hue surrat , properet, veniat! Sua gesta libellus 
Iste volutabit: Paean sua plectra sonando 
Materiam risus cantabit carmine rauco . 6 

Finis . 

Quod Skelton, Laureate. 

1 story. 

The distich of Skelton Laureate in contempt of evil-speakers. 

3 Although you are mad, although in your inanity you languish, 
malicious one, we sing: these places are full of jests. 

4 Ali women, who are either too drunken, or squalid and dirty, 
or are distinguished by a filthy mask of foulness, or by wordy 
loquacity, the poet invites to hear this little book. 

5 The drunken, squalid, dirty woman, prodigal of words, let her 

run hither, let her hurry, let her come. This little book will tell 
its own tale: The hymn of praise, sounding its own music, will sing 
with a harsh note the stuff of laughter. 


That curiously chanted and currishly countered 2 and madly 
in his music ks mockishly made against the ix. Muses of politic 
poems and poets matriculate. 

Of all nations under the heaven, 

These frantic foolis I hate most of all; 

For though they stumble in the sinnes seven, 

In peevishness 3 yet they snapper* and fall. 

Which men the eighth deadly sin call. 

This peevish proud, this prendergest, 

When he is well, yet can he not rest. 

A sweet sugar-loaf and sour bayards bun 5 
Be somedele like in form and shap, 

The one for a duke, the other for dun, 

A maunchet 6 for morell 7 thereon to snap. 

His heart is too high to have any hap; 

But for in his gamut carp 8 that he can, 

Lo, Jack would be a gentleman! 

With hey trolly lolly, whip here, Jack, 

Alumbek sodildim sillorim ben ! 

Curiously he can both counter and knak 9 
Of Martin Swart 10 and all his merry men. 

Lord, how Perkin is proud of his pea-hen! 

But ask where he findeth among his monochords 
An holy water clerk a ruler of lords. 

1 Scullion. 2 sang. 3 folly, perversity. ^stumble. 

5 horse-loaf. 6 small white loaf. 7 a black horse. 

8 sing (badly). 9 sing affectedly. % 

10 A German nobleman who lead the auxiliaries sent bj Duchess 
of Burgundy with Lambert Simnel, and who fell fighting at Battle 
of Stoke. 

Fp tig 



He cannot find it in rule nor in space; 

He solfas too haute , 1 his treble is too high; 

He braggeth of his birth, that born was full base; 

His music without measure, too sharp is his Mi\ 

He trimmeth in his tenor to counter pirdewy; 

His descant is busy, it is without a mean; 

Too fat is his fancy, his wit is too lean. 

He lumb’reth on a lewd lute Roty bully joys 

Rumble down, tumble down, hey go, now, now! 

He fumbleth in his fingering an ugly good noise: 

It seemeth the sobbing of an old sow! 

He would be made much of, an he wist how; 

Well sped in spindles and turning of tavells 2 ; 

A bungler, a brawler, a picker of quarrels. 

Comely he clappeth a pair of clavichords; 

He whistleth so sweetly, he maketh me to sweat; 

His descant is dashed full of dischords; 

A red angry man, but easy to entreat: 

An usher of the hall fain would I get 
To point this proud page a place and a room, 

For Jack would be a gentleman, that late was a groom! 

Jack would j et , 3 and yet Jill said nay, 

He counteth in his countenance to check with the best: 
A malapert meddler that prieth for his prey, 

In a dish dare he rush at the ripest, 

Dreaming in dumpes to wrangle and to wrest: 

He findeth a proportion in his prick-song , 4 
To drink at a draught a large and a long . 6 

highly. 2 an instrument used in silk-weaving. 

3 strut. Counterpoint. 

5 characters in old music: one large— two longs, one long=two 


Nay, jape not with him, he is no small fool, 

It is a solemn sire and a sullain: 

For lordes and ladies learn at his school, 

He teacheth them so wisely to solf and to fain 1 
That neither they sing well prick-song nor plain : 
This Doctor Devias commenced in a cart, 

A master, a minstrel, a fiddler, a fart. 

What though ye can counter Custodi nos *? 

As well it becometh you, a parish town clerk. 

To sing So spit aii dedid aegros . 3 

Y et be ye not too bold to brawl nor to bark 
At me that meddled nothing with your wark: 
Correct first thyself: walk, and be nought! 

Deem what thou list, thou knowest not my thought. 

A proverb of old: “Say well or be still!” 

Ye are too unhappy occasion to find 
Upon me to clatter, or else to say ill 

Now have I shewed you part of your proud mind: 
Take this in worth, the best is behind ! 

Written at Croydon by Crowland in the Clay, 

On candlemas even, the calends of May. 

L sing falsetto. Preserve us. 3 He gave succour to the sick. 


Skelton Laureate , Defender , Against Master Game she, 
Challenger , Et Cetera . 

Sith ye have me challenged. Master Garnesche, 

Rudely reviling me in the king’s noble hall, 

Such another challenger could me no man wish. 

But if it were Sir Termagant that tourneyed without nail; 
For Sir Frollo de Franko 1 was never half so tall. 

But say me now. Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have 
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave? 

What, have ye kithed 2 you a knight, Sir Douglas the 

So currishly to beknave me in the king’s palace? 

Ye strong sturdy stallion, so stern and stouty. 

Ye bear ye bold as Barabas, or Sir Terry of Thrace; 

Ye girn 3 grimly with your gummes and with your grisly 
face ! 

But say me yet. Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have 
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave? 

Ye foul, fierce and fell, as Sir Ferumbras the freke , 4 
Sir captain of Catywade, catacumbras of Cavre , 5 
Though ye be lusty as Sir Libius 6 lances to breke, 

Yet your countenance uncomely, your face is not fair: 
For all your proud pranking, your pride may impair. 

But say me yet. Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have 
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave? 

*A Roman knight, governor of Ganl, slain by King Arthur. - 
eoffrey of Monmouth. 

2 shewh. 3 grin. 

'warrior. A Saracen giant vanquished by Oliver. - Caxton’s Life 
Charles the Great . 

6 Cairo. 6 See romance Ly beaus Dis-conus (Le beau desconnu), 




Of Mantrible the Bridge , 1 Malchus the murrion , 2 
Nor black Balthasar with his basnet 3 rough as a bear, 
Nor Lycaon, that loathly lusk , 4 in mine opinion. 

Nor no boar so brimlv 5 bristled is with hair. 

As ye are bristled on the back for all your gay gear. 
But say me yet. Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have 
In your challenge, Sir Chesten, to call me a knave? 

Your wind-shaken shanks, your long loathly legs, 

Crooked as a camock , 6 and as a cow calfless, 

Brings you out of favour with all female tegs: 

That Mistress Punt put you off, it was not all causeless; 
At Orwell hyr havyn 7 your anger was lawless. 

But say me yet. Sir Satrapas, what authority ye have 
In your challenge. Sir Chesten, to call me a knave? 

I say, ye solemn Saracen, all black is your ble 8 ; 

As a glede glowing , 9 your eyen glister as glass. 

Rolling in your hollow head, ugly to see; 

Your teeth tainted with tawny; your snivelly snout doth 
pass , 10 

Hooked as an hawkes beak, like Sir Topas. 

Boldly bend you to battle, and busk 11 yourself to save: 
Challenge yourself for a fool, call me no more knave ! 

By the King’s most noble commandment . 

Skelton Laureate , Defender, Against Master Garnesche , Chal- 
lenger, with Greasy , Gor bellied Godfrey , Et Cetera . 

How may I your mockery meekly tollerate. 

Your groaning, your grunting, your groining 13 like a 
' swine? 

Concerning the giant who kept this bridge see Caxto*, op. cit. 
2 Moor. 3 cap. 4 vile creature. 5 fiercely. 

6 crooked stick. 7 by Harwich. 8 complexion. 

9 burning coal. ■ v 10 excel. “prepare. > “rooting. 



Your pride is all to-peevish, your port inportunate: 

You manticore, ye malapert, ye can both wince and whine; 
Y our loathsome lere 1 to look on, like a greased boot doth 

Ye capped Caiaphas copious , 2 your paltock 3 on your pate, 
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of check-mate. 

Whole is your brow that ye brake with Durandal 4 your own 

Why hold ye on your cap, sir, then? your pardon is expired: 
Ye hobble very homely before the king’s bourd; 

Ye counter umwhile 5 too captiously, and ere ye be 

Your moth-eaten mockish manners, they be all to-mirdd. 
Y e capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate. 
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of check-mate. 

O Gabionite of Gabion, why do ye gane 6 and gasp? 

Huf a gallant Garnesche, look on your own comely corse ! 
Lusty Garnesche, like a louse, ye jet full like a jasp 7 ; 

As witless as a wild goose, ye have but small remorse 
Me for to challenge that of your challenge maketh so 
little force . 8 

Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate. 
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of check-mate. 

Sir Guy, Sir Gawain, Sir Cayus,® for and Sir Olivere, 
Pyramus, nor Priamus , 10 nor Sir Pyrrus the proud, 

In Arthur’s ancient actes nowhere is proved your peer; 

The fashion of your physiognomy the devil in a cloud; 
Your heart is too haut, ywis, it will not be allowed. 

Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate, 
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of check-mate* 

1 skin. * 2 cl oaked. 3 patch. 4 Roland’s sword. 

5 sing some time. 6 gape. 7 wasp(?) 8 so little matter, 

•foster brother of King Arthur. 

10 Who fought with Sir Gawain (Morte d’ Arthur). 

12 5 


Ye ground you upon Godfrey, that grisly gorgon’s face. 

Your standard. Sir Olifaunte , 1 against me for to ’splay; 
Bail, bail at you both, frantic fools! follow on the chase! 
Come Garnesche, come Godfrey, with as many as ye may! 
I advise you beware of this war, range you in array. 

Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate, 
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of check-mate. 

Gup, gorbellied Godfrey, gup, Garnesche, gawdy fool! 

To tourney or to tant with me ye are too far to seek: 

For those twain whipslovens call for a cuck-stool 2 ; 

Thou manticore, ye marmoset, garnished like a Greek, 
Wrangling, wayward, witless, raw, and nothing meek. 
Ye capped Caiaphas copious, your paltock on your pate, 
Though ye prate like proud Pilate, beware of check-mate. 

Mirres vous y, 

Look not too high. 

By the King's most noble commandment ; 

Skelton Laureate , Defender , Against Lusty Garnesche , 
IVell-Beseen Christopher , Challenger , Et Cetera . 

I have your lewd letter received. 

And well I have it perceived. 

And your scribe I have espied. 

That your mad mind contrived. 

Saving your usher’s rod , 3 
I cast me 4 not to be odd 
With neither of you twain: 

Therefore I write again 
How the favour of your face 
Is void of all good grace; 

The giant in Chaucer’s Sir Thopas . * 

2 a stool fixed to a long pole used for punishing scolds by plunging 
them into water. e 

3 Garnesche was gentleman-usher to Henry VIII. 4 I design. 



For all your carpet cushions, 

Y e have knavish conditions. 

Gup, marmoset, jast ye, morel! ! 

I am laureate, I am no lorell . 1 
Lewdly your time ye spend 
My living to reprehend; 

And will never intend 
Your own lewdness to amend: 

Your English lewdly 3 ye sort. 

And falsely ye me report. 

Garnesche, ye gape too wide: 

Y our knavery I will not hide, 

For to assuage your pride. 

When ye were younger of age 
Ye were a kitchen-page, 

A dish-washer, a drivell , 3 
In the pot your nose did snivell; 

Ye fried and ye broiled. 

Ye roasted and ye boiled, 

Ye roasted, like a fon , 4 
A goose with the feet upon; 

Ye sluffered up souce 6 
In my Lady Brewse’s house. 

Whereto should I write 
Of such a greasy knight? 

A bawdy dish-clout 
That bringeth the world about 
With hafting and with polling , 6 
With lying and controlling. 

At Guines when ye were 
But a slender spere , 7 
Decked lewdly in your gear; 

For when ye dwelt there 
# Ye had a knavish coat 

%iave. ignorantly. a drudge. 4 fool. 

5 tripes. deceiving and stealing. 7 shoot, stripling. 



Was scantly worth a groat; 

In dud frieze ye were shrined. 
With better frieze lined; 

The outside every day, 

Ye might no better a way; 

The inside ye did call 
Y our best gown festival!. 

Y our drapery ye did want, 

The ward 1 with you was scant. 
When ye cast a sheepes eye, 

. . . . 2 Mistress Andelby, 

.... Guines upon a gong , 3 
.... sat somewhat too long; 
.... her husband’s head 
.... mall of lead, 

. . . . that ye there preached, 
To her love ye not reached; 

Ye would have bassed 4 her bum 
So that she would have come 
Onto your lowsy den. 

But she of all men 
Had you most in despight, 

Ye lost her favour quite; 

Your pilled-garlick head 5 
Could occupy there no stead; 

She called you Sir Guy of Gaunt, 
Nosed like an elephaunt, 

A pickaxe or a twible 6 ; 

She said how ye did bridle. 

Much like a dromedary; 

Thus with you she did wary , 7 
With much matter more 
That I keep in store. 

*wardrobe. 2 Dyce notes: portion of MS. torn off liere. 

3 privy. 4 kissed. 

5 A term applied to a person whose hair has fallen off by disease. 
6 a little axe. 7 war, contend. 


Your breath is strong and quick; 

Y e are an elder-stick; 

Y e wot what I think — 

At both ends ye stink. 

Great danger for the king, 

When his grace is fasting, 

His presence to approach: 

It is to your reproach. 

It falleth for no swine, 

Nor sowters , 1 to drink wine, 

Nor such a noddy pole 2 
A priest for to control. 

Little wit in your scribes noli , 3 
That scribbled your fond scroll, 

Upon him for to take 
Against me for to make. 

Like a doctor dawpate, 

A laureate poet for to rate. 

Your termes are too gross, 

Too far from the purpdse. 

To contaminate 
And to violate 
The dignity laureate. 

Bold bayard , 4 ye are too blind. 

And grow all out of kind, 

To occupy so your mind; 

For reason can I none find 
Nor good rhyme in your matter: 

I wonder that ye smatter, 

So for a knave to clatter! 

Y e would be called a maker 5 
And make much like Jack Raker; 

Y e are a comely craker , 6 
Ye learned of some pie-baker! 

>£blers. 2 ninny. *noddle. 4 bay horse. 

* composer. 6 vaunter. 



Cast up your curious writing, 

And your dirty inditing, 

And your spiteful despiting, 

For all is not worth a miring , 1 
A mackerel nor a whiting: 

Had ye gone with me to school 
And occupied no better your tool , 2 
Ye should have kowthed me a fool . 3 

But now, gawdy, greasy Garnesche, 

Your face I wis to varnish 
So surely it shall not tarnish. 

Though a Saracen’s head ye bear, 

Rough and full of lowsy hair. 

As every man well seeth. 

Full of great knavish teeth, 

In a field of green peason , 4 
Is rhyme yet out of reason; 

Your wit is so geson 5 
Ye rail all out of season. 

Your skin scabbed and scurvy. 

Tawny, tanned, and shurvy; 

Now upon this heat 
Rankly when ye sweat, 

Men say ye will wax lowsy, 

Drunken, droopy, drowsy! 

Your sword ye swear, I ween, 

So trenchant and so keen, 

Shall cut both white and green 6 : 

Your folly is too great 
The king’s colours to threat. 

Your breath it is so fell 
And so puauntely 7 doth smell, 

mite. 2 pen. 3 made me known for a fool. 

4 peas. S scanty. # 

e i*e. the white and green dress that Skelton wore as Laureate. 
7 stinkingly. 



And so heinously doth stink, 

That neither pump nor sink 
Doth savour half so sour 
Against a stormy shower. 

0 ladies of bright colour, 

Of beauty that beareth the flower. 

When Garnesche cometh you among 
With his breath so strong, 

Without ye have a confection 
Against his poisoned infection, 

Else with his stinking jaws 
He will cause you cast your craws, 

And make your stomach seek 
Over the perch to preke. 2 

Now, Garnesche, gard thy gums, 

My serpentines 3 and my guns 
Against ye now I bind 5 
Thyself therefore defend. 

Thou toad, thou scorpion, 

Thou bawdy babion, 4 
Thou bear, thou bristled boar, 

Thou Moorish manticore, 5 
Thou rammish stinking goat, 

Thou fowl churlish parrote, 

Thou grisly Gorgon glaimy, 

Thou sweaty sloven seimy, 8 
Thou murrion, thou mawment, 7 
Thou false stinking serpent, 

Thou mockish marmoset, 

1 will not die in thy debt ! 

Tyburn thou me assigned, 

Where thou should’st have been shrined; 

The next halter there shall be 
I bequeath it whole to thee! 

^omit. 2 pitch. 8 kind of cannon. 4 filthy baboon. 

5 human-headed dragon. 6 greasy. 7 Moor . . . Mahomet. 


Such pilfery thou hast packed, 

And so thyself over-watched 
That there thou should’st be racked, 

If thou were meetly matched. 

Y e may well be bedawed. 

Ye are a fool outlawed; 

And for to tell the ground, 

Pay Stokes his five pound. 

I say, Sir Dalyrag, 

Y e bear you bold and brag 
With other menis charge: 

Ye cut your cloth too large: 

Such polling pageantis 1 ye play, 

To point 2 you fresh and gay. 

And he that scribbled your scrollis, 

I reckon you in my rollis 
For two drunken soulis. 

Read and learn ye may 
How old proverbis say, 

That bird is not honest 
That ’fileth his own nest. 

If he wist what some wot, 3 
The flesh basting of his coat 
Was sowed with slender threde: 

God send you well good speed, 

With Dominus vobiscuml 
Good Latin for Jack a-Thrum, 

Till more matter may come. 

By the King's most noble commandment . 

3 knew what some knew. 

thievish pranks. 2 equip. 



Donum Leaureatl Distichon Contra Golliardum Gamesche 
Et Scribam Ejus . 

Tu, Gamesche, fatuus, fatuus tuns esf mage scriba; 
Qui sapuit puer , insanit vir, versus zn hydram . 

Skelton Laureate, Defe?ider, Against Lusty Gamesche, 
Well Be-seen Christopher, Challenger, Et Cetera. 

Gamesche, Gorgon, ghastly, grime, 

I have received your second rime. 

Though ye can skill of large and long. 

Ye sing alway the cuckoo song: 

Ye rail, ye rhyme, with “Hey, dog, hey!” 

Your churlish chanting is all one lay. 

Ye, sir, rail all in deformity ! 

Ye have not read the property 
Of Nature’s works, how they be 
Mixed with some incommodity, 

As proveth well, in his Rhetorics old, 

Cicero with his tongue of gold. 

That Nature wrought in you and me. 

Irrevocable is her decree ; 

Waywardly wrought she hath in thee. 

Behold thyself, and thou may’st see; 

Thou shalt behold no where a warse. 

Thy mirror may be the devil’s arse. 

With “Knave, Sir Knave, and knave again!” 

To call me knave thou takest great pain: 

The proudest knave yet of us twain 
Within thy skin he shall remain; 

The starkest knave, and least good can, 1 
Thou art called of every man; 

The court, the country, village and town, 

Saith from thy toe unto thy crown 
©f all proud knavis thou bearest the bell, 
Loathsome as Lucifer, lowest in hell. 

x knows. 



On that side, on this side thou doth gaze, 

And thi nicest thyself Sir Pierre de Breze , 1 
Thy caitiff’s carcass coarse and crazy. 

Much of thy manners I can blaze . 2 

Of Lombardy George Ardeson, 

Thou would have scored his habergeon; 

That gentle George the Januay , 3 
Ye would have enticed his trull away: 

Such pageants with your friends ye play 
With treachery ye them betray, 

Garnesche, ye got of George with gawdry 4 
Crimson velvet for your bawdry. 

Y e have a fantasy to F en church Street, 

With Lombard’s lemmans 5 for to meet, 

With “Bass me, butting, pretty Cis!” 

Your loathsome lips love well to kiss, 

Slavering like a slimy snail — 

I would ye had kissed her on the tail! 

Also not far from Budge Row, 

Ye pressed pertly to pluck a crow: 

Ye lost your hold, unbend your bow. 

Ye won nothing there but a mow 6 ; 

Ye won nothing there but a scorn; 

She would not of it thou had sworn. 

She said ye were coloured with coal-dust; 

To dally with you she had no lust. 

She said your breath stank like a brock. 

With cc Gup, Sir Guy,” ye got a mock ! 

She swear with her ye should not deal, 

For ye were smery, like a seal. 

And ye were hairy, like a calf; 

She prayed you walk, on Goddes half ! 7 

1 Grand-senesclial of Anjou, Poitou, and Normandy: a warrior in 
the reigns of Charles YII and Lewis XL 

2 shew. 3 Genoese. ‘trickery. distresses. 

6 mouth, mock. 7 i.e. go away, for God’s sake. 



And thus there ye lost your prey — 

Get ye another where ye may. 

Disparage ye mine ancestry? 

Ye are disposed for to lie: 

I say, thou fell and foul flesh flie. 

In this debate I thee ascry. 

Thou claimest thee gentle, thou art a cur; 
Heralds they know thy coat armur: 
Though thou be a gentleman born, 

Yet gentleness in thee is thread-bare worn; 
Heralds from honour may thee divorse, 

For harlots haunt thine hateful corse: 

Y e bear out brothels 1 like a bawd, 

And get thereby a slender laud 
Between the tappet 2 and the wall — 

F usty bawdias ! I say not all. 

Of harlots to use such an harres , 3 
Y e breed moths in cloth of Arras. 

What aileth thee, ribald, on me to rave? 
A king to me mine habit gave: 

At Oxford, the university, 

Advanced I was to that degree; 

By whole consent of their senate 
I was made poet laureate. 

To call me lorell ye are too lewd: 

Lith and listen, all beshrewd! 

Of the Muses nine, Calliope 
Hath ’pointed me to rail on thee. 

It ’seemeth not thy pilled pate 
Against a poet laureate 
To take upon thee for to scrive: 

It ’comes thee better for to drive 
A dung-cart or a tumbrel 
Than with my poems for to mell. 

harlots 3 tapestry. 

3 stud. 



The honour of England I learned to spell, 

In dignity royal! that doth excel: 

Note and mark well this parcel. 

I gave him drink of the sugared well 
Of Helicon’s waters crystalline. 

Acquainting him with the Muses nine. 

It ’cometh thee well me to remord 1 
That creanser 2 was to thy sovereign lord! 

It pleaseth that noble prince royal! 

Me as his master for to call 
In his learning primordial!. 

Avaunt, ribald, thy tongue reclaim! 

Me to behave thou art to blame. 

Thy tongue untaught, with poison infect, 
Without thou leave thou shalt be checked, 

And taken up in such a frame 

That all the world will spy your shame. 

Avaunt, avaunt, thou sluggish ... 3 
And say poets no dis . . . 

It is for no bawdy knave 
The dignity laureate for to have. 

Thou callest me scalled, thou callest me mad: 
Though thou be pilled, thou art not sad. 

Thou art frantic and lackest wit 
To rail with me that thee can hit. 

Though it be now full-tide with thee, 

Yet there may fall such casualtie, 

Ere thou be ware, that in a throw 
Thou mayest fall down and ebb full low: 
Wherefore in wealth beware of woe, 

For wealth will soon depart thee fro. 

To know thyself if thou lack grace, 

Learn or be lewd, I shrew 4 thy face! 

Thou seest I called thee a peacock: , 

Thou list I called thee a woodcock; 

Reproach. *tutor. 3 Dyce notes: MS. illegible. 4 curse 



For thou hast a long snout, 

A seemly nose and a stout, 

Pricked 1 like an unicorn: 

I would some man’s back ink-horn 
Were thy nose spectacle-case. 

It would garnish well thy face. 

Thou deem’st my railing overthwart: 

I rail to thee such as thou art. 

If thou were acquainted with all 
The famous poets satiricall. 

As Persius and Juvenall, 

Horace and noble Martial], 

If they were living this day, 

Of thee wot I what they would say: 

They would thee write, all with one stevin , 2 
The foulest sloven under heaven! 

Prowd, peevish, lither, and lewd. 

Malapert, meddler, nothing well-thewed, 
Busy, brainless, to brawl and brag. 

Witless, wayward, Sir Wrig-wrag! 
Disdainous, double, full of deceit, 

Lying, spying, by subtlety and sleight, 
Fleering, flattering, false, and fickle, 
Scornful and mocking over too mickle ! 

My time, I trow, I should but lese 3 
To write to thee of tragedies. 

It is not meet for such a knave. 

But now my process for to save, 

Inordinate pride will have a fall. 
Presumptuous pride is all thine hope: 

God guard thee, Garnesche, from the rope! 
Stop a tid , 4 and be well ware 
Ye be not caught in an hempen snare. 
Harken thereto, ye Harvy Hafter, 

Pride goeth before and shame cometh after. 

. * 

^pointed. 2 voice. 3 lose. 4 betime. 



Thou writest, I should let thee go play: 

Go play thee, Garnesche, garnished gay. 

I care not what thou write and say, 

I cannot let 1 thee the knave to play, 

To dance the hay or run the ray 2 : 

Thy fond face cannot me fray 3 ! 

Take this for that, bear this in mind. 

Of thy lewdness more is behind; 

A ream of paper will not hold 
Of thy lewdness that may be told. 

My study might be better spent; 

But for to serve the king’s intent. 

His noble pleasure and commandment. 

Scribble thou, scribble thou, rail or write. 

Write what thou wilt, I shall thee requite! 

By the King's most noble commandment . 

. stop. 2 Names of dances. 3 frighten. 

Skelton Laureate, 

Oratoris Regis , 


Enpoisoned with Slander and False Detractions, etc. 

Quid detur tihi , aut quid apponatur tibi ad linguam dolosamf 1 

Deus destruet te in finem; evellet te y et emigrahit te de taber- 
naculo tuo y et radicem tuam de terra viventium . 2 

All matters well pondered and well to be regarded, 

How should a false lying tongue then be rewarded? 

Such tongues should be torn out by the hard roots, 
Hoigning 3 like hogs that groignis 4 and roots. 

Dilexisti omni verba praecipitationisy lingua dolosa . 5 

For, as I have read in volumes old, 

A false lying tongue is hard to withold; 

A slanderous tongue, a tongue of a scold, 

Worketh more mischief than can be told; 

That, if I wist not to be controlled, 

Yet somewhat to say I dare well be bold. 

How some delight for to lie thick and threefold. 

Ad sennam hominem redigit comice et graphice . 6 

lU What shall be given unto thee, or what shall be done unto thee, 
thou deceitful tongue?” — Ps. cxix. 3 (Vulg.). 

2 “ God shall destroy thee for ever; he shall take thee up, and pluck 
thee out of thy tent, and root thee out of the land of the living.” - 
Ps. li. 7 (Vulg.). 

3 grunting. 4 nuzzles. 

5 “ Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.” - 
Ps. li. 6 (Vulg.)- 

6 He brings a man to mockery, derisively and cunningly. 



For ye said that he said that I said - wot ye what? 

I made, he said, a windmill of an old mat: 

If there be none other matter but that 
Then ye may commend me to gentle Cock-wat. 

Hie not at purpuraria arte intextas lit eras Romanas in amictibus 
post amhulonum ante et retro . 1 

For before on your breast, and behind on your back, 

In Roman letters I never found lack: 

In your cross row nor Christ cross you speed. 

Your Paternoster, your Ave, nor your Creed. 

Whosoever that tale unto you told, 

He saith untruly, to say that I wold 
Control the cognizance 2 of noble men 
Either by language or with my pen. 

Paedagogium meum de sublimiori Minerva constat esse: ergo y 

My school is more solemn and somewhat more hault* 
Than to be found in any such fault. 

Paedagogium meum male sanos maledicos sibilis complosisque 
manibus explodit , etc . 5 

My schools are not for unthrifts untaught, 

For frantic faitors 6 half mad and half straught 7 ; 

But my learning is of another degree 
To taunt them like lithrous, 8 lewd 3 as they be. 

*Here he speaks in shining verse of the Roman letters, woven into 
their garments, vaunted before and behind (?). I suppose - those 
who wear their university degrees and orders embroidered on their 

2 crests. 

3 It is agreed that my school is of a loftier wisdom: therefore, etc. 
4 exalted. • 

5 My school drives away with hissing and clapping of hands the 
scarcely sane slanderers. • 

Scoundrels. 7 half in their senses. 8 knaves. ® ignorant, vile. 


Laxent ergo antennam elationis suae inflatem vento vankatis , 1 

For though some be iithrous, and list for to rail, 

Yet to lie upon me they cannot prevail: 

Then let them vale a bonet 2 of their proud sail, 

And of their taunting toys rest with ill-hail. 

Nobilkati ignohzUs cedat vilitas, etc . 3 

There is no nobleman will judge in me 
Any such folly to rest or to be: 

1 care much the less whatever they say. 

For tongues untied be running astray; 

But yet I may say safely, so many well-lettered, 
Embroidered, enlaced together, and fettered, 4 
And so little learning, so lewdly allowed, 

What fault find ye herein but may be avowed? 

But ye are so full of vertibility, 5 
And of frantic folability, 6 
And of melancholy mutability, 

That ye would coarct and enforce me 
Nothing to write, but hay de guy of three, 7 
And I to suffer you lewdly to lie 
, Of me with your language full of villany! 

Sicut novacula acuta fecisti dolum . 8 

Malicious tongues, though they have no bones, 

Are sharper than swords, sturdier than stones. 

Lege Philostratum de vita Tyanaei JpollontL 9 

Therefore let them slacken the sail-yard of their elation blown 
out with the wind of vanity. 

2 lower one of the smaller sails. 

3 Let base vileness yield to nobility. 

^wearing their degrees, as before (?). 5 variableness. Tolly. 

7 i.e. dance heydeguies. But here, evidently, it means “ballads.” 

8 “Like a skarp razor, working deceitfully.” - Ps. li. 4 (Vulg.). 

9 Read Philostratus concerning the life of Apollonius of Tyana. 


Sharper than razors that shave and cut throatis. 

More stinging than scorpions that stang Pharaotis . 1 

V enenum aspidum sub lahiis eorum . 2 

More venomous and much more virulent 
Than any poisoned toad or any serpent. 

Quid peregi'inis egemus exemplis? - ad domestica recurramus . 3 

Such tongues unhappy hath made great division 
In realms, in cities, by such false abusion; 

Of false fickle tongues such cloaked collusion 
Hath brought noble princes to extreme confusion. 

Quiquid loquantur , ut effoemmayiiur > ita effantur , etc. * 

Sometime women were put in great blame, 

Men said they could not their tongues atame; 

But men take upon them now all the shame. 

With scolding and slandering make their tongues lame 

Novarum rerum cupidissimi, captatores y delator es y adulatores y 
invigilator es y deliratores , etc . 5 

For men be now traders and tellers of tales: 

What tidings at Totnam, what newis in Wales, 

What shipis are sailing to Scalis Malis?® 

And all is not worth a couple of nut-shellis: 

But leering and lurking here and there like spies — 

The devil tear their tongues and pick out their eyes! 

Then run they with lesings 7 and blow them about, 

With “He wrote such a bill 8 withouten doubt !” 

Tharaoh (?). 2 The poison of vipers beneath their lips. 

3 Why do we need foreign examples? - let us revert to our own 
country. .V * 

4 Whatever they say, they chatter as if they were women. 

5 Greedy of novelty, legacy-hunters, informers, flatterers, spies. 

8 Cadiz. ’falsehoods. 8 letter. 


With “I can tell you what such a man said — 

An you knew all, ye would be ill-apayed.” 

De more vulpino y gannientes ad aurem y fictas fabellas fabric ant . 1 

Inauspkatum , male ominatum y infortunaium se fateatur 
habuisse horoscupum , quicunque maledixerit vati Pier to , 
Skeltonidi Laureato y etc*- 

But if that I knew what his name hight. 

For clattering of me I would him soon ’quite; 

For his false lying, of that I spake never, 

I could make him shortly repent him for ever: 

Although he made it never so tough, 

He might be sure to have shame enough. 

Cerbus horrendo barathri latrando sub antro 
Te rodatque voret y lingua dolosa 3 precor . 3 

A false double tongue is more fierce and fell 

Than Cerebus the cur couching in the kennel of hell; 

Whereof hereafter I think for to write. 

Of false double tongues in the dispite. 

Recipit se scrlpturum opus sanctum , laudabile , asseptabile, 
memorabileque y et nimis honorific andum . 4 

Disperdat Dominus universa labia dolosa et linguam magni- 
loquaml 6 

Wolfishly, snarling in the ear, they frame their false fables. 
2 Whoever shall have spoken ill of the Pierian poet, Skelton 
Laureate, let him confess that he has had an inauspicious, ill-omened 

3 1 pray that Cerebus, with horrid barking beneath the cave of the 
abyss, may bite you and devour you, deceitful tongue. 

4 He undertakes to write a book holy, laudable, acceptable, mem- 
orable and altogether honourable. 

*May God destroy all deceitful lips and boasting tongues! 


Gaguinus orator Gallns contra Anglos . 

Stamus turn crebris frustra conientlbus Anglos , etc. 

How darest thou swear, or be so bold also, 

To blaspheme him that is very rete 2 and kind, 

And pull his arms his patron’s body fro? 

Alas, what unkindness is in thy mind 
If thou were to thy earthly king so unkind? 

Thou should’st be drawen and hanged by the chin 
As traitor horrible, though thou were next 3 of his kin. 

deferred to in Garland of Laurel. Discovered by Brie among 
the MSS. at Trinity College, Cambridge (o. 2. 53, fob 16 5-6), and 
printed by him in his Skelton-Studien. Recule is properly a collec- 
tion of writings. Skelton again refers to “Maister Gaguin, the 
chronicler,” in Why Gome Te Not to Court? 

2 right(?). 3 nearest. 


So many pointed caps 
Laced with double flaps, 

And so gay felted hats, 

Saw I never: 

So many good lessons, 

So many good sermons, 

And so few devotions, 

Saw I never. 

So many gardes 2 worn, 

Jagged and all to-torn, 

And so many falsely forsworn, 

Saw I never: 

So few good policies 
In townes and cities 
For keeping of blind hostries , 8 
Saw I never. 

So many good workes , 4 
So few well-learned clerkes, 

And so few that goodness markes. 

Saw I never: 

Collated with Sloane MS. 747, fol. 88. After including it in 
his text, Dyce suspected the genuineness of this poem. “It may, 
after all, be Skelton’s,” he adds, “but at any rate it is only a 
rifacimento of the verses found in the Sloane MS.” Nevertheless, 
it seems to me to have a Skeltonian ring, and I have included it, not 
only for its own merits, but for the parallel it affords with certain 
passages of Colin Clout, and the last pages of Speak , Parrot, where 
the refrain, “Since Dewcalion’s flood was never,” etc., is something 
similar. c 

S trimmings. 8 inns. 4 i.e. books. 


H 5 


Such pranked coats and sleeves, 
So few young men that preves , 1 
And such increase of thieves, 

Saw I never. 

So many garded hose. 

Such pointed shoes, 

And so many envious foes, 

Saw I never: 

So many inquests sit 
With men of smale wit, 

And so many falsely quit. 

Saw I never. 

So many gay swordes, 

So many altered wordes, 

And so few covered boardes, 

Saw I never: 

So many empty purses, 

So few good horses, 

And so many curses, 

Saw I never. 

Such boasters and braggers, 

So new fashioned daggers, 

And so many beggers, 

Saw I never: 

So many proper knives, 

So well apparelled wives 
And so ill of their lives, 

Saw I never. 

So many cuckold-makers, 

So many crakers , 2 

And so many peace-breakers, 

Saw I never; 

^rn out well. 

2 boasters. 


So much vain clothing 
With cutting and jagging. 

And so much bragging, 

Saw I never. 

So many newes and knackes, 

So many naughty packes , 1 
And so many that money lackes, 
Saw I never: 

So many maidens with child 
And wilfully beguiled, 

And so many places untiled, 

Saw I never. 

So many women blamed 
And righteously defamed, 

And so little ashamed, 

Saw I never: 

Widows so soon wed 
After their husbands be dead. 
Having such haste to bed, 

Saw I never. 

So much striving 

For goodes and for wiving, 

And so little thriving, 

Saw I never: 

So many capacities, 

Offices and pluralities, 

And changing of dignities, 

Saw I never. 

So many laws to use 
The truth to refuse, 

Such falsehood to excuse, 

Saw I never: 




Executors having the ware. 

Taking so little care 
How the soul doth fare. 

Saw I never. 

Among them that are rich, 

Where friendship is to seche , 1 
Such fair glosing speech, 

Saw I never; 

So many poor 
Coming to the door, 

And so small succour, 

Saw I never. 

So proud and so gay, 

So rich in array, 

And so scant of money, 

Saw I never; 

So many bowyers , 2 
So many fletchers , 3 
And so few good archers, 

Saw I never. 

So many cheepers , 4 
So few buyers, 

And so many borrowers, 

Saw I never; 

So many ale-sellers 
In bawdy holes and cellars. 

Of young folks ill-councellors. 

Saw I never. 

So many pinkers, 

So many thinkers, 

And so many good ale-drinkers, * 
Saw I never; * 

*i,e» to seek, to be looked for. 2 bow-makers. 

*arrow-makers. ‘‘sellers. 


So many wrongs. 

So few merry songs, 

And so many ill tongues, 

Saw I never. 

So many a vagabond 
Through all this lond, 

And so many in prison bond, ' 

I saw never: 

So many citations, 

So few oblations, 

And so many new fashions, 

Saw I never. 

So many flying tales, 

Pickers of purses and males , 1 
And so many sales, 

Saw I never: 

So much preaching, 

Speaking fair and teaching, 

And so ill believing, 

Saw I never. 

So much wrath and envy, 
Covetous and gluttony, 

And so little charity, 

Saw I never: 

So many carders. 

Revellers and dicers. 

And so many ill-ticers , 2 
Saw I never. 

So many lollers , 3 
So few true tollers , 4 

Pallets. 2 evil-enticers. 3 heretics. 
4 tellers, preachers. 


So many bawds and pollers , 1 
Saw I never: 

Such treachery, 

Simony and usury. 

Poverty and lechery, 

Saw I never. 

So many cloisters closed, 

And priests at large loosed, 

Being so evil-disposed, 

Saw I never: 

God save our sovereign lord the King, 
And all his royal spring, 

For so noble a prince reigning, 

Saw I never. 

So many Easterlings, 

Lombards and Flemings, 

To bear away our winnings. 

Saw I never: 

By their subtle ways 
All England decays. 

For such false Januays , 2 
Saw I never. 

Sometime we sang of mirth and play, 
But now our joy is gone away. 

For so many fall in decay, 

Saw I never: 

Whither is the wealth of England gone? 
The spiritual saith they have none, 

And so many wrongfully undone, 

Saw I never. 

It is great pity that every day * 

So many bribers go by the way, 

»v ; ' 

plunderers. 2 Genoese. 



And so many extortioners in each countrey. 
Saw I never: 

To thee, Lord, I make my moan. 

For thou may’st help us every one: 

Alas, the people is so woe-begone, 

Worse was it never! 

Were convenient, 

But it may not be: 

We have exiled veritie. 

God is neither dead nor sick; 

He may amend all yet, 

And trow ye so indeed, 

As ye believe ye shall have mede. 

After better I hope ever, 

F or worse was it never. 

Finis . J. S. 

Hereafter followeth the Book entitled 
Per Skelton , , Laureate 

Prologus Skeltonidis Leaureati Super Ware the Hawk 

This work devised is 
For such as do amiss; 

And specially to control 
Such as have cure of soul, 

That be so far abused* 

They cannot be excused 
By reason nor by law; 

But that they play the daw,* 

To hawk, or else to hunt 
From the alter to the font, 

With cry unreverent, 

Before the sacrament, 

Within the holy church’s boundis, 

That of our faith the ground is. 

That priest that hawkis so 
All grace is far him fro; 

He seemeth a schismatic. 

Or else an heretic, 

For faith in him is faint. 

Therefore to make complaint 
Of such misadvised 
Parsons and disguised , 3 
This book we have devised, 
Compendiously comprised, # 

depraved, 2 Le. play the fook 

3 guilty of unbecoming conduct. 

Gp 151 



No good priest to offend. 
But such daws to amend, 
In hope that no man shall 
Be miscontent withall. 

I shall make you relation, 

By way of apostrophation, 

Under supportation 
Of your patient toleration. 

How I, Skelton Laureate, 
Devised and also wrate 
Upon a lewd curate, 

A parson beneficed, 

But nothing well advised: 

He shall be as now nameless, 

But he shall not be blameless, 
Nor he shall not be shameless; 
For sure he wrought amiss 
To hawk in my church at Diss. 
This fond frantic falconer, 

With his polluted pawtener , 1 
As priest unreverent. 

Straight to the sacrament 
He made his hawk to fly. 

With hugeous shout and cry. 
The high alter he stripped naked; 
Thereon he stood and craked 2 ; 
He shook down all the clothes. 
And sware horrible oaths 
Before the face of God, 

By Moses and Aaron’s rod, 

Ere that he hence yede 3 

His hawk should pray and feed 

Upon a pigeon’s maw. 

The blood ran down raw 
Upon the alter-stone; 


2 vaunted. 

3 went. 


I 53 

The hawk tired on a bone; 

And in the holy place 
She dunged there a chace 1 
Upon my corporas’ face . 2 
Such sacrificium laudts 3 
He made with such gambawdis . 4 


His second hawk waxed gery, 5 
And was with flying weary; 

She had flowen so oft, 

That on the rood-loft 8 
She perched her to rest. 

The falconer then was prest , 7 
Came running with a dow, * 

And cried "Stow, stow, stow !” 9 
But she would not bow. 

He then, to be sure, 

Called her with a lure . 10 
Her meat was very crude, 

She had not well endued 11 ; 

She was not clean ensaimed , 1 2 
She was not well reclaimed 13 : 

But the falconer unfained 1 4 
Was much more feebler brained. 

The hawk had no list 1 5 
To come to his fist; 

She looked as she had the frounce 1 *; 

*a spot. a the communion-cloth that covers the bread, or body. 
* sacrifice of praise. 4 lewd gambols. 5 giddy. 

*a loft or niche where stood a crucifixion wit hfigures of the 
Virgin and St. John. 

7 ready. 8 pigeon. fl i.e. called her back to his fist. 

10 an imitation bird made of feathers and leather. # 

“digested. “purged of grease. 

“sufficiently tame to return to hand. 

“no wish. “an hawk’s distemper. 




With that he gave her a bounce 
Full upon the gorge.* 

I will not feign nor forge - 
The hawk with that clap 
Fell down with evil hap. 

The church doors were sparred. 

Fast bolted and barred. 

Yet with a pretty gin 2 
I fortuned to come in, 

This rebel to behold. 

Whereof I him controll’d. 

But he said that he wold. 

Against my mind and will, 

In my church hawk still. 


On Saint John decollation 3 
He hawked in this fashion. 

Tempore vesper arurn^ 

Sed non secundum Sarum , 4 
But like a March harum 
His braines were so parum. 

He said he would not let 5 
His houndis for to fet, 6 
To hunt there by liberty 
In the despite of me. 

And to halloo there the fox: 

Down went my offering-box, 

Book, bell, and candle, 

All that he might handle! 

Cross, staff, lectern, and banner, 

Fell down in this manner. 

x i.e. the crop. Contrivance. 

3 On the festival of the beheading of St. John. 

*At the time of vespers, but not according to Sarum; i.e. not 
according to precedent - the original Ordinal made by Osmond, 
Bishop of Sarum in 1090. 6 stop. 6 fetch. 


1 55 


With troll, ci trace, and trovy , 1 
They ranged, Hankin Bovy , 2 
My church all about. 

This falconer then gan shout, 
“These be my gospellers , 3 
These be my epistlers , 4 
These be my choristers 
To help me to sing, 

My hawks to matins ring!” 

In this priestly gyding 5 
His hawk then flew upon 
The rood with Mary and John, 
Dealt he not like a fon 6 ? 

Dealt he not like a daw? 

Or else is this God’s law. 
Decrees or decretals, 

Or holy sinodals, 

Or else provincials. 

Thus within the walls 
Of holy church to deal, 

Thus to ring a peal 
With his hawkis bells? 

Doubtless such losells 7 
Make the church to be 
In small authoritie: 

A curate in speciall 
To snapper 8 and to fall 
Into this open crime: 

To look on this were time 

Te. with skips, capers, etc. 

2 A dance properly called Hankin Booby. 

3 that sing the Gospel. * that sing the mass. 

Tool. 7 knaves. 8 stumble. 

5 behaviour. 




But whoso that looks 
In the official books. 

There he may see and read 
That this is matter indeed. 

Howbeit, maiden Meed 
Made them to be agreed, 

And so the Scribe was feed. 

And the Pharisey 
Then durst nothing say. 

But let the matter slip, 

And made truth to trip; 

And of the spiritual law 
They made but a gewgaw, 

And took it out in drink, 

And thus the cause doth shrink; 

The church is thus abused. 

Reproached and polluted, 

Correction hath no place, 

And all for lack of grace 


Look now in Exodi 1 
And de area Domini , 2 
With Regum 8 by and by 
(The Bible will not lie) 

How the Temple was kept, 

How the Temple was swept, 

Where sanguis taurorum , > 4 
Aut sanguis vitulorum , , 6 
Was offered within the walls, 

After ceremonialls; 

When it was polluted 
* Sentence was executed, 

Exodus. # Concerning the Ark of the Lord. 8 Kings. 
4 blood of bulls. 5 Or blood of calves. 



By way of expiation 
For reconciliation. 


Then much more, by the rood. 

Where Christis precious blood 
Daily offered is, 

To be polluted this 1 ; 

And that he wished with all 
That the dove’s dung might fall 
Into my chalice at mass, 

When consecrated was 
The blessed sacrament. 

O priest unreverent! 

He said that he would hunt 
From the alter to the font. 


Of no tyrant I read 
That so far did exceed, 

Neither Dioclesian, 

Nor yet Domitian, 

Nor yet crooked Cacus , 2 
Nor yet drunken Bacchus; 

Neither Olibrius , 3 
Nor Dionysus, 

Neither Phalary 4 
Rehearsed in Valery 5 ; 

Nor Sardanapall, 

Unhappiest of all; 

Nor Nero the worst, 

x thus. 

2 A cruel giant who ruled in Carthage. See Castor’s Recuyel 
of the Historyes of Troy. 

3 Who tortured and beheaded St. Margaret at Antfioch. 

4 i.e. Philaris. Recorded in Valerius Maximus. 



Nor Claudius the curst; 

Nor yet Egeas, 

Nor yet Sir Ferumbras 1 ; 

Neither Zorobabell, 

Nor cruel Jezebell; 

Nor yet Tarquinius, 

Whom Titus Livius 
In writing doth enroll; 

I have read them poll by poll 2 ; 
The story of Aristobell, 3 
And of Constantinopell, 

Which city miscreants wan 
And slew many a Christian man; 
Yet the Soldan, nor the Turk, 
Wrought never such a work. 

For to let their hawkes fly 
In the Church of Saint Sophy; 
With much matter more, 

That I keep in store. 


Then in a table plain 
I wrote a verse or twain, 

Whereat he made disdain: 

The peckish parson’s brain 
Could not reach nor attain 
What the sentence meant 
He said, for a crooked intent, 

The wordes were perverted: 

And thus he overthwarted . 4 
Of the which process 

Saracen giant vanquished by Oliver. 

2 head by head, one by one. 

3 Aristobulus, high-priest and governor of Judaea, who starved 
his mother t<* death and assassinated his brother. 

4 boasted. 



Ye may know more express 
If it please you to look 
In the residue of this book. 

Hereafter followeth the table . 

Look on this table. 

Whether thou art able 
To read or to spell 
What these verses tell. 

Sicculo luteris est colo buraara 
Nixphedras visarum caniuter tuntantes 
Raterplas Natanbrian umsudus itnugenus . 

18. 10. 2. 11. 19. 4. 13. 3. 3. 1. ten valet. 

Chartula stet , precor y haec nullo temeranda petulco: 

Hos rapiet numeros non homo , sed mala bos. 

Ex parte rem chartae adverte asperte , pone Musam Arethusam 
hanc . 1 

Whereto should I rehearse 
The sentence 4 of my verse? 

In them be no schools 
For brain-sick frantic fools: 

Construas hoc , 3 
Demine DawcockM 
Ware the hawk! 

Maister sophista , 5 

Y e simplex syllogista , 6 

Y e devilish dogmatist a , 7 
Your hawk on your fista, 

To hawk when you lista 8 

Ttyce notes: “The meaning of this ‘table plain’ is quite beyond my 
comprehension.” It is a cryptogram to which the key has been lost. 
2 meaning 3 construe thou this. 4 Master f)unce. 

5 sophist. 6 foolish syllogiser. 7 dogmatjst. 

8 when you like. 


In ecclesia ista. 

Doming concupisti , 1 

With thy hawk on they fisty? 

Nunquid sic dixisti? 

Nunquid sic fecisti? 

Sed ubi hoc legist i, 

Aut unde hoc , 2 
Doctor Dawcock? 

Ware the hawk! 

Doctor Dialeiica y 3 

Where find you in Hypothetic a y 4 

Or in Categoric , 6 

Latina sive Dorica y fi 

To use your hawkis f orica 7 

In propitiatorio y 

Tanquam diver sorio 8 ? 

Unde hoc y 

Domine Dawcock? 

Ware the hawk! 

Say to me, Jack Haris, 

Quare aucuparis 
Ad sacr amentum altaris ? 8 
For no reverence thou sparis 
To shake thy pigeon’s feaderis 10 

*In this church. 

Master, you have desired. 
a Did you never say so? 

Did you never act so? 

But where did you gather that, 

Or whence this? 

3 Dr. Logician. 4 Hypotheses. Categories. 

6 In Latin or in Greek. ’lavatory. 

8 In the propitiatory, 

As if it were in the tavern. 

8 Why db you go bird-catching 
By the sacrament of the altar? 

10 feathers. 


Super arcam foederis a ; 

Unde hoc. 

Doctor Dawcockr 
Ware the hawk! 

Sir Dominus vobiscum , 1 2 
Per aucupium 3 
Y e made your hawk to come' 
De super candelabrum 
Christi Crucifixi 4 * * 
To feed upon your fisty: 

Die, inimice cruris Christi, 
Ubi dididsti 
Facere hoc , s 
Domine Dawcockr 
Ware the hawk! 

Apostata Julianus, 

Nor yet Nestorianus , 8 
Thou shalt nowhere read 
That they did such a deed. 
To let their hawkes fly 
Ad ostium tabernacidi 5 
In que est corpus Domine; 
Cave hoc , 7 
Doctor Dawcock! 

Ware the hawk! 

1 Over the Ark of the Covenant. 

2 cant term for priest. 3 By fowling. 

4 From above the candlesticks 
Of Christ* s crucifixion. 

6 Say, enemy of Christ’s cross. 

Where did you learn 

To do this? 


7 Even to the door of the tabernacle, 

Where the body of the Lord is: 

Ware this! 



Thus doubtless ye raved, 

Diss church ye thus depraved; 

Wherefore, as I be saved. 

Ye are therefore beknaved: 

Quare? quia Evangelia y 
Concha et conchy Ua, 

Accipier et sGnalza , 

Et bruia animalia , 

Caetera quoque talia 
Tibi sunt aequalia l : 

Unde hoc , 

Domine Dawcock? 

Ware the hawk! 

Et relis ei rails , 

Ei reliqualis , 

F rom Granada to Galls , 2 
From Winchelsea to Wales, 

Non est brain-sick tales, 

Nec minus rationalise 
Nec magis bestialis y 3 
That sings with a chalice: 

Construas hoc , 

Doctor Dawcock! 

Ware the hawk! 

Mazed, witless, smery smith, 

Hampar with thy hammer upon thy stith , 4 

^hy? because the Gospels, 

Holy shells [i.e. shells that were numbered among the sacred 
vessels of the church] and shell-fish, 

A hawk and bells [i.e. attached to the bird’s feet], 

And brutish animals. 

And other such things 
Are all alike to you. 

2 Galicia. 

3 Nor less reasonable, 

Nor more bestial, 

4 anvil. 


And make there of a sickle or a saw. 

For though ye live a hundred year, ye shall 
die a daw. 

Vos valets , 1 
Doctor indiscrete l 

Tare thou well. 


Skelton Laureate Against the Scots 

Against the proud Scots clattering. 

That never will leave their trading; 

Won they the field, and lost their king? 

They may well say, Fie on that winning! 

Lo, these fond sots 
And trading Scots, 

How they are blind 
In their own mind, 

And will not know 
Their overthrow 
At Brankston Moor! 

They are so stour, 1 
So frandc mad, 

They say they had 
And won the field 
With spear and shield: 

That is as true 
As black is blue 
And green is gray! 

Whatever they say, 

Jemmy 2 is dead 
And closed in lead, 

That was their own king: 

Fie on that winning! 

At Flodden hills 3 
Our bows, our bills, 4 
Slew all the floure 
* Of their honour. 

^obstinate.** 2 i.e. James IV. 3 i.e. on September 9th, 15 
4 i.e. halberds. 




Are not these Scots 
Fools and sots. 

Such boast to make, 

To prate and crake, 

To face, to brace, 1 
All void of grace. 

So proud of heart. 

So overthwart. 

So out of frame. 

So void of shame, 

As it is enrolled, 

Written and told 
Within this quaire 2 ? 
Who list to repair, 

And therein read, 

Shall find indeed 
A mad reckoning, 
Considering all thing. 
That the Scots may sing 
Fie on the winning! 

When the Scot Lived 

Jolly Jemmy, ye scornful Scot, 

Is it come unto your lot 
A solemn sumner 3 for to be? 

It ’greeth nought for your degree 
Our king of England for to cite, 4 
Your sovereign lord, our prince of might; 

Y e for to send such a citation. 

It shameth all your naughty nation, 

In comparison but king Copping 
Unto our prince, anointed king! 

x vaunt . . . brag. 2 book. 8 summoner. 

4 James sent his defiance to Henry VIII while 4he latter was 
encamped before Terouenne. 




Ye play Hob Lobbin of Lowdean 1 ; 

Ye shew right well what good ye can; 

Y e may be lord of Locrian , 2 — 

Christ cense you with a frying-pan ! 

Of Edinburgh and Saint Johnis town 3 : 
Adieu, Sir Sumner, cast off your crown! 

When the Scot was Slain 

Continually I shall remember 
The merry month of September, 

With the ninth day of the same, 

For then began our mirth and game; 

So that now I have devised, 

And in my mind I have comprised. 

Of the proud Scot, King Jemmy, 

To write some little tragedy , 4 
For no manner consideration 
Of any sorrowful lamentation, 

But for the special consolation 
Of all our royal English nation. 

Melpomene, O muse tragediall, * 

Unto your grace for grace now I call 
To guide my pen and my pen to enbibe 5 ! 

Illumine me, your poet and your scribe, 

That with mixture of aloes and bitter gall 
I may compound confectures for a cordiall. 

To anger the Scots and Irish keterings 6 withall, 

That late were discomfect with battle martialL 

Thalia, my Muse, for you also call I, 

To touch them with taunts of your harmony, 

A medley to make of mirth with sadness. 

The hearts of England to comfort with gladness! 

^Lothian.*- 2 Loch Ryan. 3 Perth. 4 i.e. tragic narrative. 
s moisten. 6 Highlanders and Islesmen. 


And now to begin I will me address* 

To you rehearsing the sum of my process. 

King Jamey, Jemmy, Jocky my jo , 1 
Ye summoned our king, — why did ye so? 

To you nothing it did accord 
To summon our king, your sovereign lord. 

A king, a summer! it was great wonder: 
Know ye not sugar and salt assunder? 

Your sumner too saucy, too malapert, 

Y our herald in arms not yet half expert. 

Y e thought ye did yet valiantly. 

Not worth three skips of a pie 2 ! 

Sir skirgalliard, ye were so skit , 3 
Your will then ran before your wit. 

Y our alledge ye laid and your ally, 

Y our frantic fable not worth a fly, 

French king, or one or other; 

Regarded ye should your lord, your brother . 4 
Trowed ye, Sir Jemmy, his noble grace 
From you, Sir Scot, would turn his face? 
With, Gup, Sir Scot of Galloway, 

Now is your pride fall to decay! 

Male vred 5 was your false intent 
F or to offend your president, 

Your sovereign lord most reverent, 

Your lord, your brother, and your regent. 

In him is figured Melchizadek, 

And ye were disloyal Amelek. 

He is our noble Scipione, 

Annointed king; and ye were none, 

Joy. s magpie. 3 hasty. 

4 James married Margaret, sister of Henry YIJL 
5 ill-fortuned. 


Though ye untruly your father have slain . 1 
His title is true in France to reign 2 ; 

And ye, proud Scot, Dundee, Dunbar, 

Parde, ye were his homagar, 

And suitor to his parliament: 

For your untruth now are ye shent. 3 
Y e bear yourself somewhat too bold, 

Therefore ye lost your copyhold; 

Ye were bond tentant to his estate; 

Lost is your game, ye are check-mate. 

Unto the castle of Norham, 

I understand, too soon ye came. 

At Brankston Moor and Flodden hills. 

Our English bows, our English bills. 

Against you gave so sharp a shower 
That of Scotland ye lost the flower. 

The White Lion, 4 there rampant of mood, 

He raged and rent out your heart-blood; 

He the White, and ye the Red, 5 * * 8 

The White there slew the Red stark dead. 

Thus for your guerdon quit are ye, 

Thanked be God in Trinitie, 

And sweet Saint George, Our Lady’s knight! 
Your eye is out: adew, good-night! 

Y e were stark mad to make a fray. 

His grace being out of the way: 

But, by the power and might of God, 

For your own tail ye made a rod! 

1 James III was murdered by an unknown hand in a cottage after 

his flight from the battle of Sauchie-burn, where his son (then 

seventeen) had appeared in arms against him. James IY was always 

haunted by remorse for his father’s death and wore in penance an 

iron girdle, the weight of which he every year increased. 

* Reference to Henry’s pretensions to the French crown, 

•destroyed* 4 The Earl of Surrey’s badge. 

8 the royal arms of Scotland. 



Ye wanted wit, sir, at a word; 

Y e lost your spurs, ye lost your sword. 

Ye might have busked 1 you to Huntley banks, 

Your pride was peevish to play such pranks: 

Your poverty could not attain 
With our king royal war to maintain. 

Of the king of Navarre ye might take heed , 2 
Ungraciously how he doth speed: 

In double dealing so he did dream 
That he is king without a ream 3 ; 

And, for example ye would none take, 

Experience hath brought you in such a brake . 4 
Your wealth, your joy, your sport, your play, 

Your bragging boast, your royal array, 

Y our beard so brim 5 as boar at bay, 

Your Seven Sisters , 6 that gun so gay, 

All have ye lost and cast away. 

Thus Fortune hath turned you, I dare well say, 

Now from a king to a clot of clay: 

Out of your robes ye were shaked, 

And wretchedly ye lay stark naked. 

For lack of grace hard was your hap: 

The Pope’s curse 7 gave you that clap. 

Of the out isles 8 the rough-footed Scots, 

We have well-eased them of the bots 9 : 

The rude rank Scots, like drunken dranes , 10 
At English bows have fetched their banes. 


2 A reference to Henry’s letter in reply to James. See Hall’s 
Chronicle (Henry VIII). 

3 realm . 4 trap. 5 fierce. 

6 seven huge cannons from Edinburgh Castle. * 

7 James died excommunicated for infringing the pacification with 
England. % 

8 the Hebrides. 9 the worms. . 10 drones. 


It is not fitting in tower and town 
A srnnner to wear a king’s crown: 

Fortune on you therefore did frown; 

Ye were too high, ye are cast down. 

Sir Sumner, now where is your crown? 

Cast off your crown, cast up your crown! 

Sir Sumner, now ye have lost your crown. 

Quod Skelton Laureate , orator to the King’s 
most royal estate . 

Unto Divers People That Remord 1 This Rhyming Against 
The Scot Jemmy 

I am now constrained, 

With words nothing feigned, 

This invective to make. 

For some peoples’ sake 
That list for to jangle 
And waywardly to wrangle 
Against this my making, 

Their males 2 thereat shaking, 

At it reprehending, 

And venomously stinging, 

Rebuking and remording, 

And nothing according. 

Cause have they none other, 

But for that he was brother, 

Brother unnatural 
Unto our king royal, 

Against whom he did fight 
Falsely against all right, 

# Like unto that untrue rebel 
False Cain against Abel. 


2 wallets. 


Whoso therat picketh mood , 1 
The tokens are not good 
To be true English blood; 

F or, if they understood 
His traitorly despite, 

He was a recreant knight, 

A subtle schismatic. 

Right near an heretic. 

Of grace out of the state, 

And died excommunicate. 

And for he was a king, 

The more shameful reckoning 
Of him should men report. 

In earnest and in sport. 

He scantly loveth our king, 

That grudgeth at this thing; 

That cast such overthwarts 2 
Perchance have hollow hearts. 

Si veritatem dico , quare non creditis mihif 3 

Spicks a quarrel. 2 cavils. 

3 If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? 


A Goodly Interlude and a Merry 
Devised and Made by 
Maister Skelton, Poet Laureate 

These be the Names 






Counterfeit Countenance 
Crafty Conveyance 
Cloaked Collusion 
Courtly Abusion 

of the Flayers: 








Sad Circumspection 

Stage i. Scene t. Prosperity 

Felicity . All thing is contrived by man’s reason. 
The world environed of high and low estate. 

Be it early or late, wealth hath a season. 

Wealth is of wisdom the very true probate 1 ; 

A fool is he with wealth that falleth at debate: 
But men nowadays so unhappily be vred* 

That nothing than wealth may worse be endured. 

To tell you the cause meseemeth no need. 

The amends thereof is far to call again; 

For, when men buy wealth, they have little drede 
Of that may come after; experience true and^plain, 

How after a drought there falleth a shower of rain, 


^est. disposed. 




And after a heat oft cometh a stormy cold. 

A man may have wealth, but not as he wold. 

Aye to continue and still to endure. 

But if prudence be proved with sad circumspection 
Wealth might be won and made to the lure, 

If nobleness were acquainted with sober direction; 
But will hath reason so under subjection, 

And so disordered! this world over all, 

That wealth and felicity is passing small. 

But where wonnes* wealth, an a man would weet? 
For Wealthful Felicity truly is my name. 

Stage 1 . Scene 2 
Enter Liberty 

Lib. Mary, Wealth and I was appointed to meet, 

And either I am deceived, or ye be the same. 

FeL Sir, as ye say, I have heard of your fame; 

Your name is Liberty, as I understand. 

Lib. True you say, sir; give me your hand. 

FeL And from whence come ye, an it might be asked? 

Lib . To tell you, sir, I dare not, lest I should be masked 
In a pair of fetters or a pair of stocks ! 

FeL Hear you not how this gentleman mocks? 

Lib . Yea, to mocking earnest what an it prove? 

FeL Why, to say what he will Liberty hath leave. 

Lib . Yet Liberty hath been locked up and kept in the mew. 
FeL Indeed, sir, that liberty was not worth a cue 2 ! 

Howbeit, Liberty may sometime be too large, 

But if reason be regent and ruler of your barge. 

Lib . To that ye say I can well condescend. 

Shew fofth, I pray you, herein what you intend. 

1 dwells. 

2 half a farthing. 



Fel Of that I intend to make demonstration. 

It asketh leisure with good advertence. 

First, I say, we ought to have in consideration 

That Liberty be linked with the chain of continence, 
Liberty to let from all manner offence; 

For Liberty at large is loath to be stopped, 

But with continence your corage 1 must be cropped. 

Lib . Then thus to you - 

FeL Nay, suffer me yet further to say 

And perad venture I shall content your mind. 

Liberty, I wot well, forbear no man there may: 

It is so sweet in all manner of kind. 

Howbeit, Liberty maketh many a man blind; 

By Liberty is done many a great excess; 

Liberty at large will oft wax reckless. 

Perceive ye this parcel 2 ? 

Lib . Yea, sir, passing well. 

But an you would me permit 
To shew part of my wit, 

Somewhat I could infer 
Your conceit to debar, 

Under supportation 
Of patient tolleration. 

Fel God forbid ye should be let 3 
Your reasons forth to set; 

Wherefore at liberty. 

Say what ye will to me. 

Lib. Briefly to touch of my purpose the effect: 

Liberty is laudable and privileged from law; 

Judicial rigor shall not me correct — 

Fel Soft, my friend; herein your reason is but raw. 
Lib . Yet suffer me to say the surplus of my saw. 

What weet ye whereupon I will conclude? 

I say there is no wealth whereas Liberty is subdued 

2 part. 3 i.e. stopped. 

1 inclination. 


I trow ye cannot say nay much to this: 

To live under law it is captivity; 

Where dread leadeth the dance, there is no joy nor bliss* 
Or how can ye prove that there is felicity 
An you have not your own free liberty 
To sport at your pleasure, to run, and to hide? 

Where Liberty is absent set wealth aside! 

Stage I* Scene 3 
Here Measure comes in 

Meas. Christ you assist in your altercation! 

FeL Why, have you heard of our disputation? 

Meas . I perceive well how each of you doth reason. 
Lib. Maister Measure, you be come in good season. 
Meas. And It is wonder that your wild insolence 
Can be content with Measure’s presence ! 

FeL Would it please you then — 

Lib . Us to inform and ken — 

Meas. Ah, ye be wondrous men ! 

Your language is like the pen 
Of him that writeth too fast! 

FeL Sir, if any word have passed 
Me, either first or last, 

To you I arect it, and cast 
Thereof the reformation. 

Lib. And I of the same fashion; 

Howbeit, by protestation 
Displeasure that you none take; 

Some reason we must make. 

Meas. That will not I forsake, 

So It in measure be. 

Come off therefore, let see: 
m Shall I begin, or ye? 

FeL Nay, ye shall begin, by my will. 



Lib. It is reason and skill 
We your pleasure fulfill. 

Meas. Then ye must both consent 
You to hold content 
With my argument; 

And I must you require 
Me patiently to hear. 

Pel. Y es, sir, with right good cheer. 

Lib . With all my heart entire. 

Meas . Horacius to record, in his volumes old, 

With every condition measure must be sought 
Wealth without measure would bear himself too bold; 
Liberty without measure prove a thing of nought. 

I ponder by number; by measure all thing is wrought. 
As at the first original, by Godly opinion: 

Which proveth well that measure should have dominion. 

Where measure is master, plenty doth none offence; 

Where measure lacketh, all thing disordered is; 

Where measure is absent, riot keepeth residence; 

Where measure is ruler, there is nothing amiss. 
Measure is treasure. How say ye, is it not this? 

Pel. Yes, questionless, in mine opinion, 

Measure is worthy to have dominion. 

Lib. Unto that same I am right well agreed, 

So that Liberty be not left behind. 

Meas. Y ea, Liberty with Measure need never drede. 

Lib. What, Liberty to Measure then would ye bind? 
Meas . What else? for otherwise it were against kind: 
If Liberty should leap and run where he list 
It were no virtue, it were a thing unbless’d. 

It were a mischief, if Liberty lacked a rein 

Wherewith to rule him with the writhing of a wfest. 1 


All trebles and tenors be ruled by a mean. 

Liberty without Measure is accounted for a beast; 
There is no surfeit where Measure ruleth the feast; 
There is no excess where Measure hath his health: 
Measure continueth prosperity and wealth. 

Fel. Unto your rule I will annex my mind. 

Lib. So would I, but I would be loath 
That wont was to be foremost now to come behind. 

It were a shame, to God I make an oath, 

Without I might cut it out of the broad clothe, 

As I was wont ever, at my free will. 

Meas . But have ye not heard say that will is no skill? 

Take sad 1 direction, and leave this wantonness. 

Lib. It is no mastery! 

Fel. Tush, let Measure proceed. 

And after his mind hardly 2 yourself address; 

For, without Measure, Poverty and Need 
Will creep upon us, and us to Mischief lead : 

For Mischief will master us if Measure us forsake. 

Lib. Well, I am content your ways to take. 

Meas. Surely I am joyous that ye be minded thus. 

Magnificence to maintain your promotion shall be. 
Fel. So in his heart he may be glad of us. 

Lib . There is no prince but he hath need of us three: 
Wealth with Measure, and pleasant Libertie. 

Meas. Now pleaseth you a little while to stand; 
Meseemeth Magnificence is coming here at hand. 

Stage i. Scene 4 
Here Magnificence comes in 

Magn. To assure you of my noble port and fame, 

Who list to know, Magnificence I hight. 

Serious. 2 firmly. 



But Measure, my friend, what hight this man’s name? 
Meas. Sir, though ye be a noble prince of might, 

Yet in this man you must set your whole delight. 

And, sir, this other man’s name is Libertie. 

Magn . Welcome, friends, ye are both unto me. 

But now let me know of your conversation. 

Fel. Pleaseth your grace, Felicity they me call. 

^ Lih. And I am Liberty, made of in every nation. 

Magn. Convenient persons for any prince royall. 
Wealth with Liberty, with me both dwell ye shall, 

To the guiding of my Measure you both committing. 
That Measure be master, us seemeth it is fitting. 

Meas. Whereas ye have, sir, to me them assigned, 

Such order I trust with them for to take 
That Wealth with Measure shall be combined. 

And Liberty his large with Measure shall make. 

Fel. Your ordinance, sir, I will not forsake. 

Lib. And I myself wholly to you will incline. 

Magn. Then may I say that ye be servants mine, 

For by Measure, I warn you, we think to be guided. 

Wherein it is necessary my pleasure you know: 

Measure and I will never be divided, 

For no discord that any man can sow; 

For Measure is a mean, neither too high nor too low, 
In whose attemperance I have such delight 
That Measure shall never depart from my sight. 

Fel. Laudable your conceit is to be accounted, 

For Wealth without Measure suddenly will slide. 

Lib . As your grace full nobly recounted, 

Measure with nobleness should be allied. 

Magn. Then, Liberty, see that Measure be your fuide, 
For I will use you by this advertisement % 

Fel. Then shall you have with you Prosperity resident 


Meas. I trow Good Fortune hath annexed us together, 
To see how agreeable we are of one mind; 

There is no flatterer, nor a losel so lither , 1 
This linked chain of love that can unbind. 

Now that ye have me chief ruler assigned, 

I will endeavour me to order every thing 
Your nobleness and honour conserving. 

Lib. In joy and mirth your mind shall be enlarged, 

And not enbraced with pusillanimitie: 

But plenarly all thought from you must be discharged, 

If ye list to live after your free Libertie. 

All delectations acquainted is with me. 

By me all persons worke what they list. 

Meas . Hem, sir, yet beware of “Had I wist!” 

Liberty in some cause becometh a gentle mind, 

By cause of Measure, if I be in the way: 

Who counteth without me is cast too far behind 
Of reckoning, as evidently we may 
See at our eye the worlde day by day. 

For default of Measure all thing doth exceed. 

Fel. All that ye say is as true as the Creed. 


For howbeit, Liberty to Wealth is convenient, 

And from F elicity may not be forborn. 

Yet Measure hath been so long from us absent 
That all men laugh at Liberty to scorn. 

Wealth and wit, I say, be so thread-bare worn 
That all is without Measure and far beyond the mone . 2 
Magn . Then nobleness, I see well, it almost undone. • 

But if thereof the sooner amends be made, 

For doubtless I perceive my magnificence 
Without Measure lightly may fade, 

Of Joo much Liberty under the offence: 

Wherefore, Measure, take Liberty with you hence, 

Scoundrel so wicked. 

2 moon. 




And rule him after the rule of your school. 

Lib. What, sir* would ye make me a popping fool *? 

Meas . Why, were not yourself agreed to the same. 

And now would ye swerve from your own ordinance? 
Lib. I would be ruled, an I might for shame ! 

FeL Ah, ye make me laugh at your inconstance! 

Magn. Sir, without any longer dalliance, 

Take Liberty to rule, and follow mine intent. 

Meas . It shall be done at your commandment. 

[ Exit Measure with Liberty. 

Stage I. Scene 5 

Magn . It is a wanton thing, this Libertie! 

Perceive you not how loth he was to abide 
The rule of Measure, notwithstanding we 
Have deputed Measure him to guide? 

By Measure each thing duly is tried. 

Think you not thus, my friend F elicitie? 

FeL God forbid that it otherwise should be! 

Magn. Ye could not else, I wot, with me endure. 2 * 

FeL Endure? No, God wot, it were great pain! 

But if I were ordered by just Measure 
It were not possible me long to retain. 

Stage 1. Scene 6 
Enter Fancy 

Fan. Tush, hold your peace, your language is vain. 

Please it, your grace, to take no disdain. 

To shew you plainly the truth as I think. 

Magn . Here is none forseth 3 whether you float ortink! 

*i.e. like a parrot. 3 remain. «careth. 



Fel, From whence come you, sir, that no man looked after? 

Magn , Or who made you so bold to interrupt my tale? 
Fan, Now, benedkite , ye ween I were some hafter , 1 
Or else some jangling Jack of the Vale; 

Y e ween that I am drunken, because I look pale. 

Magn, Meseemeth that ye have drunken more than ye have 

Fan, Yet among noblemen I was brought up and bred. 

FeL Now leave this jangling and to us expound 
Why that ye said our language was in vain. 

Fan . Mary, upon a truth my reason I ground, 
That without Largesse Nobleness cannot reign: 
And that I said once yet I say again. 

I say, without Largesse worship hath no place, 

For Largesse is a purchaser of pardon and of grace. 

Magn, Now, I beseech thee, tell me what is thy name? 

Fan, Largesse, that lords should love, sir, I hight. 

Fel, But high ye Largesse, increase of noble fame? 

Fan , Yea, sir, undoubted. 

Fel, Then of very right 

With Magnificence, this noble prince of might, 

Should be your dwelling, in my consideration. 

Magn, Y et we will therein take good deliberation. 

Fan, As in that, I will not be against your pleasure. 

Fel, Sir, hardly remember what may your name advance. 
Magn, Largesse is laudable, so it be in measure. 

Fan, Largesse is he that all princes doth advance. 

I report me herein to King Lewis of France . 2 
Fel . Why have ye him named and all other refused? 

Fan . For, sith he died, Largesse was little used. 

l some “twister.” 

*Loms XII. 


Pluck up your mind, sir; what ails you to muse? 

Have ye not Wealth here at your will? 

It is but a madding, these ways that ye use: 

What availeth Lordship, yourself for to kill 
With care and thought how Jack shall have Jill? 

Magn. What? I have espied ye are a careless page. 

Fan. By God, sir, ye see but few wise men of mine age! 

"*But Covertise hath blowen you so full of wind 
That colica passio hath groped you by the guts. 

FeL In faith, Brother Largesse, you have a merry mind ! 
Fan. In faith, I set not by the world two Doncaster cuts 1 ! 
Magn. Ye want but a wild flying bolt to shoot at the 
butts ! 

Though Largesse ye hight, your language is too large: 

For which end goeth forward ye take little charge! 

FeL Let see, this check if ye void can. 

Fan . In faith, else had I gone too long to school, 

But if I could know a goose from a swan! 

Magn. Well, wise men may eat the fish when ye shall 
draw the pole. 

Fan . In faith, I will not say that ye shall prove a foie, 
But oft time have I seen wise men do mad deeds. 

Magn. Go shake thee, dog, hey, sith ye will needs! 

You are nothing meet with us for to dwell, 

That with your lord and master so pertly can prate: 

Get you hence, I say, by my counsell; 

I will not use you to play with me check-mate! 

Fan. Sir, if I have offended your noble estate, 

I trow I have brought you such writing of record 
That I shall have you again my good lord. 

To you recommendeth Sad Circumspection, * 

And sendeth you this writing closed under seal._ 

x nags. 




Magn. This writing is welcome with hearty affection. 
Why kept you it thus long? How doth he? Weel? 

Fan. Sir, thanked be God, he hath his heal. 

Magn . Wealth, get you home, and commend me to Measure; 
Bid him take good heed to you, my singular treasure. 

FeL Is there anything else your grace will command me? 

Magn . Nothing but fare you well till soon; 

And that he take good keep of Libertie. 

FeL Your pleasure, sir, shortly shall be doon. 

Magn . I shall come to you myself, I trow, this afternoon. 

[Exit Felicity. 

I pray you. Largesse, here to remain 
Whilst I know what this letter doth contain. 

Stage 1 . Scene 7 

As Magnificence is reading the letter , Counterfeit 
Countenance comes in on tiptoe , humming to himself ‘ but , 
seeing Magnificence, withdraws quietly ; then , a little later, 
he comes back again , hailing Fancy from a safe distance . 
Fancy motions him to keep quiet. 

C. Count. What! Fancy, Fancy! 

Magn. Who is that that thus did cry? 

Methought he called Fancy. 

Fan. It was a Fleming hight Hansy. 

Magn. Methought he called Fancy me behind. 

Fan. Nay, sir, it was nothing but your mind. 

But now, sir, as touching this letter — 

Magn. I shall look in it at leisure better: 

And surely ye are to him behold, 

And for his sake right gladly I wold 
Do what 4 . could to do you good. 

Fan. I pray God keep you in that mood! 



Magn . This letter was written far hence. 

Fan. By lakin, 1 sir, it hath cost me pence 

And groats many one, ere I came to your presence! 

Magn. Where was it delivered you, shew unto me. 

Fan . By God, sir, beyond the sea. 

Magn. At what place now, as you guess? 

Fan. By my troth, sir, at Pontesse 8 : 

This writing was taken me 3 there, 

But never was I in greater fear. 

Magn. How so? 

Fan. By God, at the sea side, 

Had I not opened by purse wide 
I trow, by our Lady, I had been slain, 

Or else I had lost mine ears twain. 

Magn. By your sooth? 

Fan. Y ea, and there is such a watch 
That no man can ’scape but they him catch. 

They bear me in hand 4 that I was a spy, 

And another bade put out mine eye, 

Another would mine eye was bleared, 

Another bade shave half my beard; 

And boys to the pillory ’gan me pluck. 

And would have made me Friar Tuck, 

To preach out of the pillory hole 
Without an anthem or a stole; 

And some bade “Sear him with a mark!” 

To get me fro them I had much wark. 

Magn . Mary, sir, ye were afrayed ! 

Fan. By my troth, had I not paid and prayed, 

And made largesse, as I hight, 

I had not been here with you this night; 

But surely largesse saved my life, 

For largesse stinteth all manner of strife. 

Magn. It doth so, sure, now and then; 

But largesse is not meet for every man. 

dadykin (By our Lady). 2 Pontoise. 

3 consigned to me. 4 accused me. 


1 86 

Fan. No, but for you great estates. 

Largesse stinteth great debates. 

And he that I came fro to this place 
Said I was meet for your grace. 

And indeed, sir, I hear men talk 
By the way, as I ride and walk, 

Say how you exceed in nobleness 
If you had with you Largesse. 

Magn, And say they so in very deed ? 

Fan . With yea, sir, so God me speed. 

Magn . Yet Measure is a merry mean. 

Fan . Yea, sir, a blanched almond is no bean! 

Measure is meet for a merchant’s hall, 

But Largesse becometh a state royall. 

What, should you pinch at a peck of oats, 

Ye would soon pinch at a peck of groats! 

Thus is the talking of one and of other, 

As men dare speak it hugger mugger: 

A lord, a nigard, it is a shame! 

But Largesse may amend your name 
Magn, In faith, Largesse, welcome to me. 

Fan, I pray you, sir, I may so be, 

And of my service you shall not miss. 

Magn, Together we will talk more of this: 

Let us depart from hence home to my place. 

Fan. I follow even after your noble grace. 

[Exit Magnificence. Counterfeit Countenance, 

entering \ detains Fancy. 

C. Count. What, I say, hark a word ! 

Fan. Do away, I say, the devil’s turd ! 

C. Count. Yea, but how long shall I here await? 

Fan . By God’s body, I come straight! 

I hate this blundering 1 that thou dost make. 


C. Couni. Now, to the devil I thee betake, 

For in faith ye be well met! 




Stage 2. Scene 8. Conspiracy 
Counterfeit Countenance alone in the place 

C. Count. Fancy hath catch ed in a fly-net 
This noble man Magnificence, 

Of Largesse under the pretence. 

They have made me here to put the stone: 
But now will I, that they be gone, 

In bastard time, after the doggerel guise, 

Tell you whereof my name doth rise. 

For Counterfeit Countenance known am I, 
This world is full of my folly. 

I set not by him a fly 
That cannot counterfeit a lie, 

Swear, and stare, and bide thereby, 

And countenance it cleanly, 

And defend it mannerly. 

A knave will counterfeit now a knight, 

A lurdain 1 like a lord to flight, 2 
A minstrel like a man of might, 

A tapster 3 like a lady bright: 

Thus make I them with thrift to fight, 

Thus at the last I bring him right 
To Tyburn, where they hang on hight. 

To counterfeit I can by pretty ways: 

Of nights to occupy counterfeit keys, 

Cleanly to counterfeit new arrays. 
Counterfeit earnest by way of plays: 

Thus am I occupied at all essays. 
Whatsoever I do, all men me praise, 

And mickle am I made of nowadays. • 


2 scold. 3 a barmaid. 



Counterfeit matters in the law of the land, 

With gold and groats they grease my hand 
In stead of right that wrong may stand, 

And counterfeit freedom that is bound; 

I counterfeit sugar that is but found; 

Counterfeit captains by me are manned; 

Of all lewdness I kindle the brand; 

Counterfeit kindness, and think deceit; 
Counterfeit letters by the way of sleight; 

Subtily using counterfeit weight; 

Counterfeit language, fait bon geyt . 1 
Counterfeit is a proper bait; 

A count to counterfeit in a reseit, — 

To counterfeit well is a good conceit. 

Counterfeit maidenhood may well be born, 

But counterfeit coins is laughing to scorn; 

It is evil patching of that is torn, 

When the nap is rough, it would be shorn; 
Counterfeit halting without a thorn. 

Yet counterfeit chaffer 2 is but evil corn; 

All thing is worse when it is worn. 

What would ye, wives, counterfeit 
The courtly guise of the new jet 3 ? 

An old barn would be underset: 

It is much worth that is far-fet . 4 
What, wanton, wanton, now well ymet! 
What, Margery Milk Duck, marmoset! 

It would be masked in my net; 

It would be nice, though I say nay; 

By Crede, it would have fresh array. 

And therefore shall my husband pay; 

x i.e. ge#e - makes a good story. ^merchandise. 

3 fashion. 4 far-fetched. 



To counterfeit she will essay 
All the new guise, fresh and gay. 

And be as pretty as she may. 

And jet it 1 jolly as a jay. 

Counterfeit preaching, and believe the contrary; 
Counterfeit conscience, peevish pope holy; 

Counterfeit sadness , 2 with dealing full madly; 
Counterfeit holiness is called hypocrisy; 

Counterfeit reason is not worth a fly; 

Counterfeit wisdom, and works of folly; 

Counterfeit countenance every man doth occupy. 

Counterfeit worship 3 outward men may see; 

Riches rideth out, at home is povertie; 

Counterfeit pleasure is borne out by me: 

Coll would go cleanly, and it will not be. 

And Annot would be nice, and laughs u Tehe wche!” 
Your counterfeit countenance is all of necessity, 

A plumed partridge all ready to fly. 

A knuckleboneyard will counterfeit a clerk. 

He would trot gently, but he is too stark, 

At his cloaked counterfeiting dogs do bark; 

A carter a courtier, it is a worthy wark, 

That with his whip his mares was wont to yark 4 ; 

A coistrell 5 to drive the devil out of the dark, 

A counterfeit courtier with a knaves mark. 

To counterfeit thus friars have learned me; 

Thus nuns now and then, an it might be, 

Would take in the way of counterfeit charitie 
The grace of God under benedick ex, 

To counterfeit their counsel they give me a fee; 

Canons cannot counterfeit but upon three, 

Monks may not for dread that man should them see. 


^trut. 8 sobriety. 3 dignity, position. 

4 lash. 5 groom. * 



Stage 2. Scene 9 

Enter Fancy, talking excitedly to Crafty Conveyance 

Cr. Con . What, Counterfeit Countenance! 

C. Count . What, Crafty Conveyance! 

Fan. What, the devil, are ye two of acquaintance? 

God give you a very mischance ! 

Cr . Coun. Yes, yes, sir, he and I have met. 

C . Count. We have been together both early and late. 

But, Fancy, my friend, where have ye been so long? 

Fan. By God, I have been about a pretty prong 1 ; 

Crafty Conveyance, I should say, and I. 

Cr. Con. By God, we have made Magnificence to eat a fly! 
C . Count. How could ye do that, an I was away? 

Fan. By God, man, both his pageant and thine he can play. 
C. Count. Say truth? 

Cr. Con . Y es, yes, by lakin, I shall thee warrant. 

As long as I live, thou hast an heir apparent. 

Fan. Yet have we picked out a room 2 for thee. 

C. Count. Why, shall we dwell together all three? 

Cr. Con. Why, man, it were too great a wonder 
That we three gallants should be long assunder. 

C. Count. For Cock’s® heart, give me thy hand! 

Fan. By the mass, for ye are able to destroy an whole land ! 
Cr. Con . By God, yet it must begin much of thee. 

Fan. Who that is ruled by us it shall be long ere he three . 4 
C. Count. But, I say, keepest thou the old name still that 
thou had? 

Cr. Con. Why wendest thou, whoreson, that I were so mad? 
Fan. Nay, nay, he hath changed his, and I have changed mine. 
C. Count. Now, what is his name, and what is thine? 

Fan. In faith, Largesse I hight. 

And I am made a knight. 

C. Count. A rebellion against nature, 

So large »man, and so little of stature! 

^rank. * 2 i.e. a place. 3 i.e. God’s. 4 thrive. 


But, sir, how counterfeited ye? 

Cr. Con. Sure Surveyance I named me. 

C. Count . Surveyance ! where ye survey 
Thrift hath lost her coffer-key! 

Fan. But is it not well? how thinkest thou? 

C. Count. Y es, sir, I give God a vow. 

Myself could not counterfeit it better. 

But what became of the letter 

That I counterfeited you underneath a shrowd? 

Fan. By the mass, oddly well allowed. 

Cr. Con. By God, had not I it conveyed 

Fancy had been discrived . 1 

C. Count. I wot, thou art false enough for one. 

Fan. By my troth, we had been gone: 

And yet, in faith, man, we lacked thee 
F or to speak with Libertie. 

C. Count. What is Largesse without Libertie? 

Cr. Con. By Measure mastered yet is he. 

C. Count. What, is your conveyance no better? 

Fan. In faith, Measure is like a tetter a 
That overgroweth a man’s face. 

So he ruleth over all our place. 

Cr. Con. Now therefore, whilst we are together, - 
Counterfeit Countenance, nay, come hither, - 
I say, whilst we are together in same — 

C . Count. Tush, a straw, it is a shame 
Than we can no better than so. 

Fan. We will remedy it, man, ere we go: 

For, like as mustard is sharp of taste. 

Right so a sharp fancy must be found 
Wherewith Measure to confound. 

Cr. Con . Con you a remedy for a tisic, s 
That sheweth yourself thus sped in physic? 

C . Count. It is a gentle reason of a rake! 

Fan. For all these japes yet that ye make — 

Cr. Con. Your fancy maketh mine elbow totachel 


2 a skin disease. 




Fan. Let see, find you a better way. 

C. Count Take no displeasure of what we say. 

Cr . Con. Nay, an you be angry and overwrought, 

A man may beshrew your angry heart. 

Fan. Tush, a straw, I thought no ill. 

C . Count. What, shall we jangle thus all the day still? 
Cr. Con . Nay, let us our heads together cast. 

Fan. Yea, and see how it may be compassed 
That Measure were cast out of the doors. 

C. Count. Alas, where is my boots and my spurs? 

Cr. Con. In all this haste whither will ye ride? 

C. Count. I trow, it shall not need to abide. 

Cock’s wounds, see, sirs, see, see ! 

Stage 2. Scene 10 

Enter Cloaked Collusion, pacing up and down 
with a grand air 

Fan. Cock’s arms, what is he? 

Cr. Con . By Cock’s heart, he looketh high ! 

He hawketh, methink, for a butterfly. 

C . Count . Now, by Cock’s heart, well abidden. 

For, had you not come, I had ridden. 

CL Col. Thy words be but wind, never they have no weight; 
Thou hast made me play the jurd hayt. 

C. Count. And if ye knew how I have mused 
I am sure ye would have me excused. 

CL GoL I say, come hither: what are these twain? 

C. Count. By God, sir, this is Fancy small brain, 

And Crafty Conveyance, know you not him? 

CL Col. “Know him, sir!” quod he: yes, by Saint Sim! 
Here is a leash of ratches 1 to run a hare: 

Woe is that purse that ye shall share ! 

Fan . Wteat call ye him - this? 




Cr. Con. I trow what he is — 

C. Count . Tush, hold your peace. 

See you not how they press 
For to know your name? 

CL Col. Know they not me, they are to blame. 
Know you not me, sirs? 

Fan . No, indeed. 

Cr. Con. Abide, let me see, take better heed; 
Cock’s heart, it is Cloaked Collusion! 

Cl. Col. Ay, sir, I pray God give you confusion! 
Fan . Cock’s arms, is that your name? 

C. Count. Yea, by the mass, this is even the same, 
That all this matter must under grope . 1 
Cr. Con. What is this he weareth - a cope? 

Cl. Col. Cap, sir! I say you be too bold. 

Fan. See how he is wrapped for the cold: 

Is it not a vestment? 

Cl. Col. Ah, ye want a rope! 

C. Count . Tush, it is Sir John Double-Cope. 

Fan. Sir, an if you would not be wroth - 
Cl. Col. What say’st? 

Fan. Here was too little cloth! 

CL Col. Ah, Fancy, Fancy, God send thee brain! 
Fan . Yea, for your wit is cloaked for the rain. 

Cr. Con. Nay, let us not chatter thus still. 

Cl. Col. Tell me, sirs, what is your will. 

C. Count. Sir, it is so that these twain 
With Magnificence in household do remain, 

And there they would have me to dwell, 

But I will be ruled after your counsell. 

Fan. Mary, so will we also* 

Cl. Col. But tell me whereabout ye go. 

C. Count. By God, we would get us all thither 

Spell the remnant, and do together . 2 

Cl. Col. Hath Magnificence any treasure? 

Cr. Con. Yea, but he spendeth it all in measure. 

*seize, understand. 

2 i.e. put it together. 



CL Col. Why, dweileth Measure where ye two dwell? 

In faith, he were better to dwell in hell! 

Fan. Y et where we won ne, 1 now there wonneth he, 

CL Col. And have you not among you Libertie. 

C . Count Y ea, but he is in captivitie. 

CL Col. What the devil! how may that be? 

C. Count. I cannot tell you: why ask you me? 

Ask these two that there doth dwell. 

CL Col. Sir, the plainness 2 you me tell. 

Cr. Con. There dweileth a master men calleth Measure - 
Fan. Yea, and he hath rule of all his treasure. 

Cr. Con . Nay, either let me tell, or else tell ye. 

Fan. I care not, tell on for me. 

C . Count. I pray God let you never to three 3 ! 

CL Col. What the devil aileth you? can you not agree? 
Cr. Con . I will pass over the circumstance 
And shortly shew you the whole substance. 

Fancy and I, we twain, 

With Magnificence in household do remain. 

And counterfeited our names we have 
Craftily all things upright to save, 

His name Largesse, Surveyance mine: 

Magnificence to us beginneth to incline 
Counterfeit Countenance to have- also, 

And would that we should for him go. 

C. Count. But shall I have mine old name still? 

Cr. Con. Peace, I have not yet said what I will. 

Fan. Here is a ’pistle of a postic! 

CL Col. Tush, fonnish Fancy, thou art frantic! 

Tell on, sir — how then? 

Cr. Con. Mary, sir, he told us when 
We had him found we should him bring, 

And that we failed not for nothing. 

CL Col. All this ye may easily bring about. 

Fan. Mary, the better an Measure were out. 

CL Col. Why, can ye not put out that foul freke 4 ? 


^well. 2 the plain fact. 3 thrive. 4 fellow. 



Cr. Con . No, in every comer he will peke. 

So that we have no libertie, 

Nor no man in court but he, 

For Liberty he hath in guiding. 

C. Count . In faith, and without Liberty there is no biding. 
Fan. In faith, and Liberty’s room is there but small. 

CL Col . Hem! that like I nothing at all. 

Cr. Con. But, Counterfeit Countenance, go we together, 

All three, I say. 

C. Count. Shall I go? whither? 

Cr. Con. To Magnificence with us twain, 

And in his service thee to retain. 

C. Count. But then, sir, what shall I hight? 

Cr. Con. Ye and I talked thereof to-night. 

Fan. Yea, my fancy was out of owl-flight. 

For it is out of my minde quite. 

Cr. Con. And now it cometh to my remembrance: 

Sir, ye shall hight Good Demeanance. 

C. Count. By the arms of Calais, well conceived ! 

Cr. Con. When we have him thither conveyed, 

What an I frame such a sleight 
That Fancy with his fond conceit 
Put Magnificence in such a madness 
That he shall have you in the stead of sadness, 

And Sober Sadness shall be your name ! 

CL Col. By Cock’s body, here beginneth the game! 

For then shall we so craftily carry 
That Measure shall not there long tarry. 

Fan. For Cock’s heart, tarry whilst that I come again. 

Cr. Con. We will see you shortly one of us again. 

C. Count. Now let us go, an we shall, then. 

CL Col. Now let us see acquit you like pretty men. 

[Exit Fancy, Crafty Conveyance and 
Counterfeit Countenance. 



Stage 2 . Scene 1 1 

Here Cloaked Collusion promenades 

CL Col. To pass the time and order while a man may talk 
Of one thing and other to occupy the place; 

Then for the season that I here shall walk. 

As good to be occupied as up and down to trace 
And do nothing. Howbeit, full little grace 
There cometh and groweth of my coming, 

For Cloaked Collusion is a perilous thing. 

Double dealing and I be all one, 

Crafting and hafting contrived is by me; 

I can dissemble, I can both laugh and grone. 

Plain dealing and I can never agree: 

But division, dissension, derision, these three 
And I am counterfeit of one mind and thought. 

By the means of mischief to bring all things to nought. 

And though I be so odious a guest, 

And every man gladly my company would refuse, 

In faith yet am I occupied with die best: 

"Full few that can themselves of me excuse. 

When other men laugh, then study I and muse, 
Devising the means and ways that I can, 

How I may hurt and hinder every man. 

Two faces in a hood covertly I bear, 

Water in the one hand, and fire in the other; 

I can feed forth a fool, and lead him by the ear: 
Falsehood-in-Fellowship is my sworn brother. 

By Cloaked Collusion, I say, and none other, 
Cumberance and trouble in England first began: 

From that lord to that lord I rode and I ran, 


And flattered them with fables fair before their face, 

And told all the mischief I could behind their back, 



And made as I had knowen nothing of the case: 

I would begin all mischief, but I would bear no lack, 1 
Thus can I learn you, sirs, to bear the devil’s sack. 

And yet, I trow, some of you be better sped than I 
Friendship to feign, and think full litherly. 3 

Paint 3 to a purpose good countenance I can, 

And craftily can I grope how every man is minded; 

^ My purpose is to spy and to point every man; 

My tongue is with favell 4 forked and tyned 5 : 

By Cloaked Collusion thus many one is beguildd. 

Each man to hinder I gape and I gasp : 

My speech is all pleasure, but I sting like a wasp, 

I am never glad but when I may do ill. 

And never am I sorry but when that I see 
I cannot mine appetite accomplish and fulfil 
In hinder ance of wealth and prosperitie: 

I laugh at all shrewdness, and lie at libertie, 

I muster, I meddle; among these great estates 
I sow seditious seeds of dischord and debates. 

To flatter and to fleer is all my pretence 

Among all such persons as I well understand 
Be light of belief and hasty of credence; 

I make them to startle and sparkle like a brond, 

I move them, I maze them, I make them so fond 
That they will hear no man but the first tale: 

And so by these means I brew much bale. 6 

Stage 2. Scene 12 

Enter Courtly Abusion, singing 

Court . Ab. Huffa, huffa, tanderum, tanderum, tain, huffa, 

CL Col. This was properly prated, sirs! what said ^ 7 ? 

^lame. 2 wickedly. 3 feign. * cajolery. 

5 pointed. 6 trouble. 7 he. 



Court. Ab. Rutty bully, jolly r utter kin, heyda! 

Cl. Col. De que pays etes vous? 

\With an Ironical air he makes as if to doff his hat. 

Court. Ab. Deck your hoft and cover a lowse. 

Cl. Col. Say vous 1 chanter , “ Ventre ires douce”} 

Court. Ab. Oui-da , oui-da . 2 

How say’ st thou, man, am not I a jolly rutter 3 ? 

Cl. Col. Give this gentleman room, sirs, stand utter 4 ! 

By God, sir, what need all this waste? 

What is this, a betill, or a bo tow , 5 or a buskin laced? 

Court. Ab. What, wendest thou that I know thee not, 
Cloaked Collusion? 

Cl. Col. And wendest thou that I know not thee, cankered 

Court. Ab. Cankered Jack Hare, look thou be not rusty , 6 
For thou shalt well know I am neither dirty nor dusty! 

Cl. Col. Dusty! nay, sir, ye be all of the lusty, 

Howbeit of scape thrift your cloaks smelleth musty. 

But whither art thou walking, in faith unfeigned? 

Court. Ab. Mary, with Magnificence I would be retained. 
Cl. Col. By the mass, for the court thou art a meet man: 
Thy slippers they swop it, yet thou footest it like a swan. 
Court. Ab. Yea, so I can devise my gear after the courtly 

Cl. Col. So thou art personable to bear a prince’s banner. 
Court. Ab. By God’s foot, and I dare well fight, for I will not 

Cl. Col. Nay, thou art a man good enough - but for thy 
false heart. 

Court. Ab. Well, an I be a coward, there is more than I. 

Cl. Col. Yea, in faith a bold man and a hardy: 

A bold man in bowl of new ale in corns ! 

Court. Ab. Will ye see this gentleman is all in his scorns? 

Cl. Col. But are ye not advised to dwell where ye spake? 

fi.e. Savps-vous. 2 Yes, indeed. 8 dashing fellow. 

4 i.e. stand back. 5 boot, 6 uncivil. 



Court . Ab. Iam of few words, I love not to bark 
Bearest thou any room, or canst thou do ought? 

Canst thou help me, in favour that I might be brought? 

CL Col. I may do somewhat, and more I think shall. 

Stage 2 . Scene 13 

Enter Crafty Conveying, pointing with his finger 
Cr. Con . Hem, Collusion! 

Court. Ab. By Cock’s heart, who is yonder that for thee 
doth call? 

Cr. Con. Nay, come at once, for the armes of the dice! 
Court. Ab. Cock’s arms, he hath called for thee twice! 

Cl. Col. By Cock’s heart, and call shall again: 

To come to me, I trow, he shall be fain. 

Court. Ab. What, is thy heart pricked with such a proud pin? 
Cl. Col. Tush, he that hath need, man, let him run. 

Cr. Con . Nay, come away, man: thou playest the kavser. 
Cl. Col. By the mass, thou shalt bide my leisure. 

Cr. Con. “Abide, sir,” quod he! mary, so I do. 

Court. Ab. He will come, man, when he may tend 1 to. 

Cr. Con. What the devil, who sent for thee? 

Cl. Col. Here he is now, man; may’st thou not see? 

Cr. Con. What the devil, man, what thou meanest? 

Art thou so angry as thou seemest? 

Court. Ah. What the devil, can ye agree no better? 

Cr. Con. What the devil, where had we this jolly jetter? 

Cl. Col. What say’st thou, man? why dost thou not supplie, 
And desire me thy good master to be? 

Court. Ab. Speakest thou to me? 

Cl. Col. Yea, so I tell thee. 

Court. Ab. Cock’s bones, I ne tell can 
Which of you is the better man, 

Or which of you can do most. 

Cr. Con. In faith, I rule much of the rost. * 




CL Col. Rule the roost i thou wouldest, ye? 

As scant thou had no need of me. 

Cr. Con. Need! yes, mary, I say not nay. 

Court . Ah. Cock’s heart, I trow thou wilt make a fray! 
Cr. Con. Nay, in good faith, it is but the guise. 1 
CL Col. No, for ere we strike, we will be advised twice. 
Court. Ah. What the devil, use ye not to draw no swords? 
Cr. Con . No, by my troth, but crack great words. 

Court. Ah. Why, is this the guise now-a-days? 

CL Col. Y ea, for surety — oft peace is taken for frays. 

But, sir, I will have this man with me. 

Cr. Con. Convey yourself first, let see. 

CL Col. Well, tarry here till I for you send. 

Cr. Con. Why, shall he be of your bend 2 ? 

CL Col. Tarry here: wot ye well what I say? 

Court. Ah. I warrant you, I will not go away. 

Cr. Con. By Saint Mary, he is a tall 3 man. 

CL Col. Yea, and do right good service he can. 

I know in him no defaut. 

But that the whoreson is prowd and haut. 

[Exit Cloaked Collusion and Crafty Conveyance, 

Court. Ah. Nay, purchace ve a pardon for the pose, 4 
For pride hath plucked thee by the nose, 

As well as me. I would, an I durst - 
But now I will not say the worst. 

Stage 2. Scene 14 
Courtly Abusion alone in the place 

Court. Ah. What now, let see, 

Who looketh on me 
Well round about, 

How gay and how stout 
That I can wear 
Courtly my gear. 

fashion, 2 band. 3 bold. 4 catarrh. 



My hair brusheth 
So pleasantly. 

My robe rusheth 
So ruttingly , 1 
Meseem I fly, 

I am so light 
To dance delight. 

Properly 2 dressed, 

All point devise, 

My person pressed 
Beyond all size 
Of the new guise, 

To rush it out 
In every rout. 

Beyond measure 
My sleeve is wide. 

All of pleasure 

My hose strait tied, 

My buskin wide 
Rich to behold. 

Glittering in gold. 


Forsooth, I hight$ 

Shall on him light, 

By day or by night, 
That useth me: 

He cannot three . 3 

A very fon , 4 
A very ass, 

Will take upon 
To compass 
That never was 

a handsomely. 8 thrive. 



Abused before; 

A very pore 

That so will do. 

He doth abuse 
Himself too too. 

He doth misuse 
Each man take a fee. 1 
To crake and prate 2 : 

I befool his pate. 

This new fon jet 3 
From out of France 
First I did set, 

Made purveyance 
And such ordinance 
That all men it found 
Throughout England. 

All this nation 
I set on fire 
In my fashion, 

This their desire, 

This new attire: 

This ladies have, 

I it them gave. 

Spare for no cost: 

And yet in deed 
It is cost lost. 

Much more than need 
For to exceed 
In such array: 

Howbeit, I say, 

* 1 Some corruption in text here. 
2 vaunt. 3 foolish fashion. 



A carl’s 1 son, 

Brought up of nought, 
With me will wonn 2 
Whilst he hath ought: 
He will have wrought 
His gown so wide 
That he may hide 

His dame and his sire 
Within his sleeve; 
Spend all his hire 
That men him give. 
Wherefore I preve 
A Tyburn check 3 
Shall break his neck. 

Enter Fancy 

Fan. Stow, stow! 

Court. Ab. All is out of harre, 4 
And out of trace. 

Aye warre and warre 5 
In every place. 

Stage 2. Scene 15 

But what the devil art thou, 

That criest “Stow, stow!” 

Fan. What, whom have we here - Jenkin Joly? 

Now welcome, by the God holy! 

Court . Ab. What, Fancy, friend! how dost thou fare? 
Fan. By Christ, as merry as a March hare! 

Court. Ab. What the devil hast thou on thy fist - an owl? 
Fan. Nay, it is a farly 6 fowl. 

y y-y' * Vy,-. :; '; 

churl’s. 2 dwelL 3 i.e. a rope. 4 out of joint. 

* worse and worse. ‘strange. 



Court Ah Methink she frowneth and looketh sour. 
Fan. Turd, man, it is an hawk of the tower. 

She is made for the malard fat. 

Court. Ah. Methink she is well-beaked to catch a rat. 
But now what tidings can you tell, let see. 

Fan. Mary, I am come for thee. 

Court . Ah. For me? 

Fan. Y ea, for thee, so I say. 

Court. Ab. How so ? tell me, I thee pray. 

Fan. Why, heard you not of the fray 
That fell among us this same day? 

Court Ah No, mary, not yet. 

Fan . What the devil, never a whit? 

Court. Ah No, by the mass; what should I swear? 
Fan. In faith, Liberty is now a lusty spere , 1 
Court Ab. Why, under whom was he abiding? 

Fan. Mary, Measure had him a while in guiding, 

Till, as the devil would, they fell a-chiding 
With Crafty Conveyance. 

Court Ah Yea, did they so? 

Fan . Y ea, by God’s sacrament, and with other mo. 
Court . Ah What needed that, in the devil’s date? 

Fan. Yes, yes, he fell with me also at debate. 

Court . Ab. With thee also? what, he playeth the state? 
Fan. Yea, but I bade him pick out of the gate, 

By God’s body, so did I ! 

Court. Ab. By the mass, well done, and boldly! 

Fan. Hold thy peace. Measure shall from us walk. 
Court Ah Why, is he crossed then with a chalk? 

Fan. Crossed! yea, checked out of conceit . 2 
Court Ah How so? 

Fan. By God, by a pretty sleight. 

As hereafter thou shalt know more. 

But I must tarry here, go thou before. 

Court. Ab. With whom shall I there meet? 

Fan. Crafjy Conveyance standeth in the street, 

* ^tripling. ? out of favour. 



Even of purpose for the same. 

Court, Ah. Yea, but what shall I call my name? 

Fan . Cock’s heart, turn thee, let me see thine array 
Cock’s bones, this is all of John de Gay! 

Court, Ah. So I am ’pointed after my conceit. 

Fan, Mary, thou j ettest it of height 1 ! 

Court, Ah, Yea, but of my name let us be wise. 

Fan, Mary, Lusty Pleasure, by mine advise, 

To name thyself. Come off, it were done. 

Court , Ah Farewell, my friend. 

Fan, Adieu, till sone. 

[Exit Courtly Abusion. 

Stage 2. Scene 16 

Fan. Stow, bird, stow, stow ! 

It is best I feed my hawk now. 

There is many evil favoured, an thou be foul. 

Each thing is fair when it is young: all hail, owl! 

Lo, this is 
My fancy ywis: 

Now Christ it blesse! 

It is, by Jesse, 

A bird full sweet, 

For me full meet: 

She is furred for the heat 
All to the feet* 

Her browes bent, 

Her eyen glent*: 

From Tyne to Trent, 

From Stroud to Kent, « 

^trattest it in high, style. 2 glancing. 



A man shall find 
Many of her kind. 

How standeth die wind - 
Before or behind? 

Barbed 1 like a nun, 

For burning of the sun; 

Her feathers dun. 

Well-favoured, bonne! 

Now, let me see about 
In all this rout 
If I can find out 
So seemly a snout 

Among this press: 

Even a whole mess 2 — 

Peace, man, Peace! 

I rede 3 we cease. 

So farly fair as it looks, 

And her beak so comely crooks, 

Her nailes sharp as tenter hooks! 

I have not kept her yet three wooks. 4 

And how still she doth sit! 

Tewit, tewit! Where is my wit? 

The devil speed whit! 

That was before, I set behind: 

Now too courteous, forthwith unkind. 
Sometime too sober, sometime too sad, 
Sometime too merry, sometime too mad; 
Sometime I sit as I were solemn proud, 
Sometime I laugh over lowd. 

Sometime I weep for a gee gaw. 

Sorted me I laugh at wagging of a straw; 



3 1 advise. 

4 weeks. 


With a pear my love you may win, 

And ye may lose it for a pin. 

I have a thing for to say, 

And I may tend thereto for play; 

But in faith I am so occupied 
On this half and on every side, 

That I wot not where I may rest 
First to tell you what were best, 

Frantic Fancy-service I hight: 

My wits be weak, my brains are light. 

For it is I that other while 

Pluck down lead, and thatch with tile; 

Now will I this, and now will I that, 

Make a windmill of a mat; 

Now I would, and I wist not what. 

Where is my cap? I have lost my hat! 

And within an hour after 

Pluck down a house, and set up a rafter. 

Hither and thither, I wot not whither: 

Do and undo, both together. 

Of a spindle I will make a spar: 

All that I make forthwith I mar! 

I blunder, I bluster, I blow, and I blother, 

I make on the one day, and I mar on the other. 
Busy, busy, and ever busy, 

I dance up and down till I am dizzy. 

I can find fantasies where none is: 

I will not have it so, I will have it this. 1 

Stage 2. Scene 1 7 

Enter Folly, shaking his bauble , capering about, 
and playing on an instrument 

FoL Masters, Christ save everyone! 
What, Fancy, art thou here alone? 

fi.e. thus. 



Fan. What, fonnish Folly! I befool thy face! 

Fol. What, frantic Fancy in a fool’s case 1 ? 

What is this, an owl or a glede 2 ? 

By my troth, she hath a great head ! 

Fan. Tush, thy lips hang in thine eye! 

It is a French butterfly. 

FoL By my troth, I trow well ! 

But she is less a great deal 
Than a butterfly of our land. 

Fan. What pilde 3 cur leadest thou in thy hand? 

FoL . A pilde cur! 

Fan. Yea so, I tell thee, a pilde cur! 

FoL Yet I sold his skin to Mackmur 
In the stead of a budge 4 fur. 

Fan. What, flayest thou his skin every year? 

FoL Y es, in faith, I thank God I may hear. 

Fan. What, thou wilt cough me a daw for forty pence? 
FoL Mary, sir, Cockermouth is a good way hence. 

Fan. What? of Cockermouth spake I no word. 

FoL By my faith, sir, the frubisher hath my sword. 

Fan. Ay, I trow ye shall cough me a fool. 

FoL In faith, truth ye say; we went together to school. 
Fan. Yea, but I con somewhat more of the letter. 
r FoL I will not give a halfpenny for to chose the better. 
Fan. But, brother Folly, I wonder much of one thing, 
That thou so high from me doth spring, 

And I so little alway still. 

FoL By God, I can tell, an I will. 

Thou art so feeble fantastical, 

And so brainsick therewithal, 

And thy wit wandering here and there, 

That thou canst not grow out of thy boy’s gear. 

And as for me, I take but one foolish way. 

And therefore I grow more on one day 
Than thou can in veares seven. 

Fan. In faith, truth thou sayest now, by God of heaven! 

s kite. 

3 mangy. 

4 lamb’s. 



For so with fantasies my wit doth fleet, 

That wisdom and I shall seldom meet. 

Now, of good fellowship, let me buy thy dog. 

FoL Cock’s heart, thou liest, I am no hog! 

Fan. Here is no man that called thee hog nor swine. 

FoL In faith, man, my brain is as good as thine. 

Fan. The devil’s turd for thy brain! 

FoL By my sire’s soul, I feel no rain. 

Fan . By the mass, I hold thee mad. 

FoL Mary, I knew thee when thou wast a lad. 

Fan . Cock’s bones, heard ye ever such another? 

FoL Yea, a fool the one, and a fool the other. 

Fan . Nay, but wotest thou what I do say? 

FoL Why, sayest thou that I was here yesterday? 

Fan . Cock’s arms, this is a work, I trow! 

FoL What, callest thou me a dunnish crow? 

Fan. Now, in good faith, thou art a fond guest. 

FoL Y ea, bear me this straw to a daw’s nest. 

Fan. What, wendest thou that I were so foolish and so fond? 
FoL In faith, yet is there none in all Englond. 

Fan. Y et for my fancy’s sake, I say, 

Let me have thy dog, whatsoever I pay. 

FoL Thou shalt have my purse, and I will have thine. 

Fan. By my troth, there is mine. 

FoL Now, by my troth, man, take, there is my purse. 

And I beshrew him that hath the worse. 

Fan. Turd, I say, what have I do? 

Here is nothing but the buckle of a shoe, 

And in my purse was twenty mark. 

FoL Ha, ha, ha! hark, sirs, hark! 

For all that my name hight Folly, 

By the mass, yet art thou more fool than I. 

Fan. Yet give me thy dog, and I am content, 

And thou shalt have my hawk to a botchment 
FoL That ever thou thrive, God it fcrfend*! 

For God’s cope thou wilt spend. * 



Now take thou my dog, and give me thy fowl. 

Fan . Hey, chish, come hither! 

FoL Nay, turd, take him by time. 

Fan . What callest thou thy dog? 

FoL Tush, his name is Grime. 

Fan. Come, Grime, come, Grime. It is my pretty dogs! 
FoL In faith, there is not a better dog for hogs, 

Not from Anwick unto Aungey. 

Fan . Y ea, but trowest thou that he be not mangy? 

FoL No, by my troth, it is but the scurf and the scab. 
Fan . What, he hath been hurt with a stab? 

FoL Nay, in faith, it was but a stripe 
That the whoreson had for eating of a tripe. 

Fan . Where the devil gat he all these hurts? 

FoL By God, for snatching of puddings 1 and worts . 2 
Fan. What, then he is some good poor man’s cur? 

FoL Yea, but he will in at every man door. 

Fan. Now thou hast done me a pleasure great. 

FoL In faith, I would thou had’st a marmoset. 

Fan. Cock’s heart, I love such japes ! 

FoL Yea, for all thy mind is on owls and apes. 

But I have thy poultry, and thou hast my cattle. 

Fan . Yea, but thrift and we have made a battle. 

FoL Rememb’rest thou not the japes and the toys ~ 
Fan. What, that we used when we were boys? 

FoL Yea, by the rood, even the same. 

Fan . Yes, yes, I am yet as full of game 
As ever I was, and as full of trifles, 

Nil, nihilum , nihil anglice , nifles . 5 

FoL What connest thou all this Latin yet, 

And hath so mazed a wandering wit? 

Fan . Tush, man, I keep some Latin in store. 

FoL By Cock’s heart, I ween thou hast no more! 

Fan. No? yes, in faith, I can versify. 

FoL Then I pray thee heartily 
Make -a verse of my butterfly: 


*i.e. meat-puddings. 2 vegetables. 3 trifles, also. 


21 1 

It forceth not 1 of the reason, so it keep rime. 

Fan. But wilt thou make another on Grime? 

Fol. Nay, in faith, first let me hear thine. 

Fan. Mary, as for that thou shalt soon hear mine: 

Est snavi snago with a shrewd face vilis imago. 

Fol. Grimbaldus greedy, snatch a pudding till the roast be 

Fan. By the heart of God, well done ! 

FoL Yea, so readily and so sone 2 ! 

Stage 2. Scene 1 8 

Enter Crafty Conveyance 

Cr . Con . What, Fancy I Let me see who is the other. 
Fan . By God, sir, Folly, mine own sworn brother! 

Cr. Con. Cock’s bones, it is a farlv freke 3 : 

Can he play well at the hodipeke 4 ? 

Fan. Tell by thy troth what sport canst thou make. 
Fol. Ah, hold thy peace: I have the tooth-ache. 

Cr. Con. The tooth-ache! lo, a turd ye have! 

Fol. Y ea, thou hast the four quarters of a knave. 

Cr. Con . Wotest thou, I say, to whom thou speaks? 
Fan. Nay, by Cock’s heart, he ne recks, 5 
For he will speak to Magnificence thus. 

Cr. Con. Cock’s arms, a meet man for us! 

Fol. What, would ye have more fools, and are so many? 
Fan. Nay, offer him a counter in stead of a penny. 

Cr. Con. Why, thinkest thou he can no better skill? 

Fol. In faith, I can make ye both fools, an I will. 

Cr. Con . What hast thou on thy fist - a kesteril? 

Fol. Nay, ywis, fool, it is a doteril. 

Cr. Con. In a coat thou can play well the diser. ® 

Matters not. *soon. 3 strange fe^ow. 

Took : ■ : *recks not. . Ky * scoffer. 



FoL Yea, but thou can play the fool without a viser. 

Fan, How rode he by you? how put he you there? 

Cr. Con . Mary, as thou sayest, he gave me a blur. 

But where gat you that mangy cur? 

Fan, Mary, it was his, and now it is mine. 

Cr Con. And was it his, and now it is thine? 

Thou must have thy fancy and thy will, 

But yet thou shalt hold me a fool still 

FoL Why, wendest thou that I cannot make thee play tl\p 
fon 1 ? 

Fan. Yes, by my faith, good Sir John. 

Cr. Con. F or you both it were enough. 

FoL Why, wendest thou that I were as much a fool as 

Fan. Nay, nay, thou shalt find him another manner of man. 

FoL In faith, I can do masteries , 2 so I can. 

Cr. Con. What canst thou do but play cock wat? 

Fan. Y es, yes, he will make thee eat a gnat. 

FoL Yes, yes, by my troth, I hold thee a groat 

That I shall laugh thee out of thy coat. 

Cr. Con. Then will I say that thou hast no peer. 

Fan. Now, by the rood, and he will go near. 

FoL Hem, Fancy, regarded vous . 


[ Here F olly maketh semblance to take a louse from 
Crafty Conveyance’s shoulder . 

Fan. What hast thou found there? 

FoL By God, a louse. 

Cr. Con . By Cock’s heart, I trow thou liest. 

FoL By the mass, a Spanish moth with a gray list. 

Fan. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! 

Cr. Con. Cock’s arms, it is not so, I trow. 

[Here Crafty Conveyance putteth off his gown . 

FoL Put on thy gown again, for thou hast lost now. 

x fool. 

^clever tricks. 



Fan. Lo, John of Boham, 1 where is thy brain? 

Now put on, fool, thy coat again. 

Fol. Give me my groat, for thou hast lost. 

[Here Folly maketh semblance to take money of 
Crafty Conveyance. 

Shut thy purse, daw, and do no cost. 

Fan. Now hast thou not a proud mock and a stark? 

Cr . Con. With, yes, by the rood of Woodstock Park! 

Fan. Nay, I tell thee, he maketh no doubts 

To turn a fool out of his clouts. a 

Cr. Con. And for a fool a man would him take. 

Fol. Nay, it is I that fools can make; 

For be he kayser or be he king, 

To fellowship with Folly I can him bring. 

Fan. Nay, wilt thou hear now of his schools. 

And what manner of people he maketh fools? 

Cr. Con. Yea, let us hear a word or twain. 

Fol. Sir, of my manner I shall tell you the plain. 

First I lay before them my bible, 3 
And teach them how they should sit idle. 

To pick their fingers all day long; 

So in their ear I sing them a song 
And make them so long to muse 
That some of them runneth straight to the stews 4 : 

To theft and bribery I make some fail. 

And pick a lock and climb a wall 5 
And where I spy a nisot 5 gay. 

That will sit idle all the day. 

And cannot set herself to wark, 

I kindle in her such a lither 4 spark 
That rubbed she must be on the gall 
Between the tappet 7 and the wall. 

Cr. Con. What, whoreson, art thou such a one? 

*one of the persons in the old metrical tale, The Hunting of the 
Hare . ■ 

*clothes. *Or, bauble(?). 4 i.e. brothel. 

5 lazy jade. 4 wicked. 7 tapestry. 


Fan. Nay, beyond all other set him alone. 

Cr * Con. Hast thou any more? Let see, proceed. 

FoL Y ea, by God, sir, "for a need 
I have another manner of sort 
That I laugh at for my disport; 

And those be they that come up of nought, 

As some be not far, an if it were well sought: 

Such daws, whatsoever they be 
That be set in authoritie, 

Anon he waxeth so high and proud, 

He frowneth fiercely, brimly browed, 

The knave would make it coy, 1 an he could; 

All that he doth must be allowed. 

And, “This is not well done, sir, take heed!” 

And maketh himself busy where is no need: 

He dances so long, hey, trolly lolly, 

That every man laugheth at his folly. 

Cr. Con. By the good Lord, truth he saith ! 

Fan. Thinkest thou not so, by thy faith? 

Cr. Con . “Think I not so!” quod he. Else have I shame, 
For I know divers that useth the same. 

FoL But now, forsooth, man, it maketh no matter, 

F or they will so busily smatter, 

So help me God, man, ever at the length 
I make them lose much of their strength; 

F or with folly so do I them lead, 

That wit he wanteth when he hath most need. 

Fan. Forsooth, tell on: hast thou any mo? 

FoL Yes, I shall tell you, ere I go, 

Of divers mo that haunteth my schools. 

Cr . Con. All men beware of such fools! 

FoL There be two lither, rude and rank, 

Simkin Titivell and Pierce Pythank; 

These lithers I learn them for to lere 2 
What he saith and she saith to lay good ear, 

And tell-to his sovereign every whit, 


haughty. 2 know. 


And then he is much made of for his wit. 

And, be the matter ill more or less, 

He will make it mickle worse than it is; 

But all that he doth, and if he reckon well, 

It is but folly every dell 

Fan. Are not his words cursedly couched? 

Cr. Con. By God, there be some that be shrewdly touched. 
But, I say, let see, and if thou have any more. 

Fol. I have an whole armory of such haberdash in store; 

For there be others that folly doth use, 

That follow fond fantasies and virtue refuse. 

Fan . Nay, this is my part that thou speakest of now. 

Fol, So is all the remnant, I make God avow; 

For thou formest such fantasies in their mind 
That every man almost groweth out of kind. 

Cr. Con . By the mass, I am glad that I came hither. 

To hear you two rutters 1 dispute together. 

Fan . Nay, but Fancy must be either first or last. 

Fol. But when Folly cometh all is past. 

Fan, I wot not whether it cometh of thee or of me. 

But all is folly that I can see. 

Cr. Con. Mary, sir, ye may swear it on a book! 

Fol. Yea, turn over the leaf, read there and look 

How frantic Fancy first of all 

Maketh man and woman in folly to fall. 

Cr. Con. Ay, sir, ay, ay! how by that! 

Fan. A perilous thing to cast a cat 
Upon a naked man, an if she scrat 
Fol. So ho, I say, the hare is squat! 

For, frantic Fancy, thou makest man mad; 

And I, Folly, bringeth them to quifuit gad, a 
With quifuit , brain-sick I have them brought, 

From qui fait aliquid^ to sheer shaking nought. 4 
Cr. Con. Well argued and surely on both sides! 

But for thee. Fancy, Magnificence abides. 

1 gallants. 

*i.e. to a state of regret — I “who was” - in thejpast. 

3 who was something. 4 sheer nothing. 



Fan. Why, shall I not have Folly with me also? 

Cr. Con. Yea, perde, man, whether that ye ride or go: 

Yet for his name we must find a sleight 
Fan. By the mass, he shall hight Conceit 
Cr. Con. Not a better name under the sun: 

With Magnificence thou shalt won. 

FoL God have mercy, good godfather. 

Cr. Con. Yet I would that ye had gone rather; 

For, as soon as ye come in Magnificence 5 sight, 

All measure and good rule is gone quite. 

Fan . And shall we have liberty to do what we will? 

Cr. Con. Riot at liberty rusheth it out still. 

FoL Yea, but tell me one thing. 

Cr. Con. What is that? 

FoL Who is master of the mash-vat 1 ? 

Fan. Yea, for he hath a full dry soul 

Cr. Con. Cock’s arms, thou shalt keep the brewhouse bowl. 

FoL But may I drink thereof whiles that I stare? 

Cr. Con. When Measure is gone, what needest thou spare? 
When Measure is gone, we may slay care. 

FoL Now then go we hence. “Away the mare ... ! 55 

[j Exit Folly and Fancy. 


Stage 2 . Scene 19 

Crafty Conveyance alone in the place 

Cr. Con. It is wonder to see the world about, 

To see what folly is used in every place; 

Folly hath a room, I say, in every rout, 

To put where he list Folly hath free chace; 

Folly and Fancy all where, every man doth face and brace; 
Folly footeth it properly, Fancy leadeth the dance; 

And nesj come I after, Counterfeit Countenance. 

1 maShing- vat for malt. A line missing after this ? 



Whoso to me giveth good advertence 
Shall see many things done craftily; 

By me conveyed in wanton insolence, 

■ . . ’ - ■ ■ ■ # . 1 

Privy ’pointments conveyed so properly, 

(For many times much kindness is denied 
For dread that we dare not oft lest we be spied.) 

•y By me is conveyed mickle pretty ware, 

Sometime, I say, behind the door for need; 

I have an hobby can make larks to dare *; 

I knit together many a broken threde. 

It is great almess the hungry to feed, 

To clothe the naked where is lacking a smock, 

Trim at her tail, ere a man can turn a sock: 

What ho, be ye merry! was it not well conveyed? 

As oft as ye list, so honesty be saved; 

“Alas, dear heart, look that we be not perceived!” 
Without craft nothing is well behaved; 

Though I shew you courtesy, say not that I craved, 
Yet convey it craftily, and hardly spare not for me, 

So that there know no man, but I and she. 

Theft also and petty bribery 
Without me be full oft espied; 

My inwit dealing there can no man descry, 

Convey it by craft, lift and lay aside: 

F ull much flattery and falsehood I hide, 

And by crafty conveyance I will, an I can. 

Save a strong thief and hang a true man. 

But some men would convey, and con no skill. 

As malapert taverners that check 3 with their betters. 
Their conveyance wieldeth the work all by will; 

And some will rake upon them to counterfeit letters. 
And therewithal convey himself into a pair of fetters; 

Tine missing. *an hawk that can terrify larks. 

* taunt. 



And some will convey by the pretence of sadness, i 
Till all their conveyance is turned into madness. 

Crafty conveyance is no child’s game: 

By crafty conveyance many one is brought up of nought; 
Crafty Conveyance can cloak himself from shame. 

For by crafty conveyance wonderful things are wrought: 
By conveyance crafty I have brought 
Unto Magnificence a full ungracious sort, • 

For all hooks 2 , unhappy to me have resort. 

Stage 3. Scene 20. Delusion 
Enter Magnificence with Liberty and Felicity 

Magn. Trust me. Liberty, it grieveth me right sore 
To see you thus ruled and stand in such awe. 

Lib. Sir, as by my will, it shall be so no more. 

Pel. Y et Liberty without rule is not worth a straw. 
Magn . Tush, hold your peace, ye speak like a daw! 

Ye shall be occupied, Wealth, at my will. 

Qr. Con. All that ye say, sir, is reason and skill. 

Magn. Maister Surveyor, where have ye been so long? 

Remember ye not how my Liberty by Measure ruled was? 
Or. Con. In good faith, sir, meseemeth he had the more 

Lib . Mary, sir, so did he exceed and pass. 

They drove me to learning like a dull ass. 

Pel. It is good yet that Liberty be ruled by reason. 

Magn. Tush, hold your peace, ye speak out of season! 

Yourself shall be ruled by Liberty and Largesse. 

Pel. I #m content, so it in measure be. 





Lib. Must Measure, in the mare’s name, you furnish and 

Magn. Nay, nay, not so, my friend Felicity. 

Cr. Con . Not, an your grace would be ruled by me. 

Lib. Nay, he shall be ruled even as I list. 

Fel. Yet it is good to beware of “ Had I list.” 

Magn. Sir, by Liberty and Largesse I will that ye shall 
% Be governed and guided: wot ye what I say? 

Maister Surveyor, Largesse to me call. 

Cr. Con . It shall be done. 

Magn . Y ea, but bid him come away 

At once, and let him not tarry all day. 

[Exit Crafty Conveyance. 

Fell Y et it is good wisdom to work wisely by wealth. 

Lib . Hold thy tongue, an thou love thy health. 

Magn. What, will ye waste wind, and prate thus in vain? 

Ye have eaten sauce, I trow, at the Tailor’s Hall. 

Lib. Be not too bold, my friend; I counsel you, bear a brain. 
Magn. And whatso we say, hold your content withail. 
Fel. Sir, yet without sapience your substance may be small; 
For, where is no measure, how may worship endure? 

[Enter Fancy. 

Fan. Sir, I am here at your pleasure. 

Your grace sent for me, I ween; what is your will? 

Magn. Come hither. Largesse, take here Felicity. 

Fan. Why, ween you that I can keep him long still? 

Magn. To rule as ye list, lo here is Liberty. 

Lib. I am here ready. 

Fan. What, shall we have Wealth at our guiding to rule as 
we list? 

Then farewell thrift, by him that cross klst ! 

Fel. I trust your grace will be agreeable 
That I shall suffer none impeachment 



By their deme nance, nor loss reprovable. 

Magn . Sir, ye shall follow mine appetite and intent. 

FeL So it be by measure I am right well content. 

Fan . What, all by measure, good sir, and none excess? 

Lib . Why, wealth hath made many a man brainless. 

FeL That was by the means of too much liberty. 

Magn . What, can ye agree thus and appose? 

FeL Sir, as I say, there was no fault in me. 

Lib. Yea, of Jack a Thrum’s babble can ye make a glose# 
Fan . Sore said, I tell you, and well to the purpose: 

What should a man do with you? - lock you under kay. 

FeL I say, it is folly to give all wealth away. 

Lib . Whether should Wealth be ruled by Liberty, 

Or Liberty by Wealth? Let see, tell me that. 

FeL Sir, as meseemeth, ye should be ruled by me. 

Magn. What need you with him thus prate and chat? 
Fan. Shew us your mind then, how to do and what. 
Magn. I say, that I will ye have him in guiding. 

Lib . Maister Felicity, let be your chiding, 

And so, as ye see it will be no better. 

Take it in worth suche as you find. 

Fan. What the devil, man, your name shall be the greater. 
For Wealth without Largesse is all out of kind. * 

Lib . And Wealth is nought worth if Liberty be behind. 
Magn. Now hold ye content, for there is none other shift. 
FeL Then waste must be welcome, and farewell thrift! 

Magn. Take of his substance a sure inventory, 

And get you home together; for Liberty shall bide, 

And wait upon me. 

Lib. And yet for a memory. 

Make indentures how ye and I shall guide. 

Fan . I can do nothing but he stand beside. 

Lib . Sir, we can do nothing the one without the other. 
Magn. Well, get you hence then, and send me some other. 

1 gloss. *i.e. unnatural. 



Fan, Whom? lusty Pleasure, or merry Conceit? 

Magn. Nay, first lusty Pleasure is my desire to have. 
And let the other another time await, 

Howbeit, that fond fellow is a merry knave! 

But look that ye occupy the authority that I you gave. 

[Exit Felicity, Liberty, and Fancy. 

% Stage 3. Scene 21 

Magnificence alone in the place 

For now, sirs, I am like as a prince should be: 

I have Wealth at will, Largesse and Lihertie. 

Fortune to her laws cannot abandune 1 me, 

But I shall of Fortune rule the rein; 

I fear nothing Fortune’s perplex! tie ; 

All honour to me must needes stoop and lean; 

I sing of two partes without a mean; 

I have wind and weather over all to sail. 

No stormy rage against me can prevail 

Alexander, of Macedony king, 

That all the orient had in subjection. 

Though all his conquests were brought to reckoning, 
Might seem right well under my protection 
To reign, for all his martial affection; 

For I am Prince Peerless, proved of port, 

Bathed with bliss, embraced with com f6 rt. 

Syrus, that solemn sire of Babylon, 

That Israel released of their captivitie, 

For all his pomp, for all his royal throne. 

He may not be compared unto me. 

I am the diamond doubtless of dignitie: 

Surely it is I that all may save and spill „ 

No man so hardy to work against my will 

Subject. ’destroy. 



Porsena, the proud provost of Turky land, 

That rated the Romans and made them ill rest, 
Nor Caesar July, that no man might withstand. 
Were never half so richly as I am drest: 

No, that I assure you: look who was the best. 

I reign in my robes, I rule as me list, 

I drive down these dastards with a dint of my fist. 

Of Cato, the count, accounted the cane, 

Darius, the doughty chieftain of Perse, 

I set not by the prowdest of them a prane, 1 
Ne by none other that any man can rehearse. 

I follow in felicitie without reverse. 

I drede no danger, I dance all in delight: 

My name is Magnificence, man most of might. 

Hercules the hardy, with his stubborn clubbed mace, 
That made Cerebus to couch, the cur dog of hell, 
And Theseus, that proud was Pluto to face, 

It would not become them with me for to mell: 
For of all barons bold I bear the bell, 

Of all doughty, I am doughtiest duke, as I deem: 

• To me all princes to lowt 2 may beseem. 

Charlemagne, that maintained the nobles of France, 
Arthur of Albion, for all his brimme 3 beard. 

Nor Basian 4 the bold, for all his bribance, 5 

Nor Alaric, that ruled the Gothiance by swerd. 
Nor no man on mould can make me afeard. 
What man is so mazed with me that dare meet, 

I shall flap him as a fool to fall at my feet. 

Galba, whom his gallants garde for to gasp, 6 
Nor Nero, that neither set by God nor man, 

^^rawn. 2 bow. 3 bristly. 

4 An^>ninus Bassianus Caracalla. 

6 made to gasp. 

5 pilfering. 


Nor Vespasian, that bore in his nose a wasp, 

Nor Hanibal against Rome gates that ran, 

Nor yet Scipio, that noble Carthage wan, 

Nor none so hardy of them with me that durst crake. 

But I shall frounce them on the foretop, and gar* diem to 

% Stage 3. Scene 22 

Here cometh in Courtly Abusion, doing 
reverence and courtesy 

Court Ab. At your commandment, sir, with all due rever- 

Magn . Welcome, Pleasure, to our magnificence. 

Court. Ab. Pleaseth it your grace to show what I do shall? 
Magn. Let us hear of your pleasure to pass the time withal. 
Court Ab. Sir, then, with the favour of your benign 

To shew you my mind myself I will advance, 

If it like your grace to take it in degree. 2 
Magn. Y es, sir, so good man in you I see, 

And in your dealing so good assurance, 

That we delight greatly in your daliance. 

Court. Ab. Ah, sir, your grace me doth extol and raise. 

And far beyond my merits ye me commend and praise; 
Howbeit, I would be right glad, I you assure. 

Any thing to do that might be to your pleasure. 

Magn. As I be saved, with pleasure I am surprised 
Of your language, it is so well devised; 

Polished and fresh® is your ornacy. 4 

Court. Ab. I would to God that I were half so crafty, 

Or in elect utterance half so eloquent. 

As that I might your noble grace content! 

Magn. Trust me, with you I am highly pleased, 

For in my favour I have you enfeoffed and seized? 

1 make. *take it kindly. * elegant. 4 ornate diction. 



He is not living your manners can amend; 

Mary, your speech is as pleasant as though it were penn’d; 
To hear your commune, it is my high comfort; 

Point devise all pleasure is your port. 

Court . Ah. Sir, I am the better of your noble report; 

But, of your patience under the support, 

If it would like you to hear my poor mind — 

Magn. Speak, I beseech thee, leave nothing behind. 

Court . Ah. So as ye be a prince of great might, „ 

It is seeming your pleasure ye delight, 

And to acquaint you with carnal delectation, 

And to fall in acquaintance with every new fashion; 

And quickly your appetites to sharp and address, 

To fasten your fancy upon a fair mistress, 

That quickly is envived with rudies of the rose, 

Inpurtured 1 with features after your purpose; 

The strains of her veins as Indy azure blue, 

Enbudded with beauty and colour fresh of hue. 

As lily-white to look upon her leer, 8 
Her eyen relucent as carbuncle so clear. 

Her mouth embalmed, delectable and merry. 

Her lusty lips ruddy as the cherry: 

How like you? ye lack, sir, such a lusty lass. 

Magn . Ah, that were a baby to ’brace and to bass! 

I would I had, by him that hell did harrow, 

With me in keeping such a Philip Sparrow! 

I would hawk whilest my head did wark, 3 
So I might hobby for such a lusty lark! 

These words in mine ear they be so lustily spoken, 

That on such a female my flesh would be wroken 4 ; 

They touch me so thoroughly, and tickle my conceit, 

That weried I would be on such a bait: 

Ah, Cock’s arms, where might such one be found? 

Court . Ah. Will ye spend any money? 

Magn. Y ea, a thousand pound ! 

3 i.e. until my head did ache. 

4 satiated. 

1 Adorned. 

2 skin. 


Court. Ah. Nay, nay, for less I warrant you to be sped, 

And brought home, and laid in your bed. 

Magn. Would money, trowest thou, make such one to the 

Court. Ah. Money maketh merchants, I tell you, over all 
Magn. Why, will a mistress be won for money and for gold? 
Court. Ah. Why, was not for money Troy both bought and 

Full many a strong city and town hath been won 
By the means of money without any gon. 

A mistress, I tell you, is but a small thing; 

A goodly ribbon, or a gold ring, 

May win with a sawte l 2 the fortress of the hold. 

But one thing I warn you, press forth and be bold! 

Magn. Yea, but some be full coy and passing hard-hearted. 
Court. Ah. But, blessed be our Lord, they will be soon 
converted ! 

Magn. Why, will they then be intreated, the most and the 

Court. Ah. Y ea, for omnis mulier meretrix > si celari potest. 3 
Magn. Ah, I have spied ye can much broken sorrow! 
Court. Ah. I could hold you with such talk hence till to- 

But if it like your grace, more at large 
Me to permit my mind to discharge, 

I would yet shew you further of my conceit. 

Magn. Let see what ye say, shew it straight. 

Court. Ah. Wisely let these words in your mind be weighed: 
By wayward wilfulness let each thing be conveyed; 
Whatsoever ye do, follow your own will; 

Be it reason or none, it shall not greatly skill; 

Be it right or wrong, by the advise of me, 

Take your pleasure and use free libertie; 

And if you see anything against your mind, 

Then some occasion of quarrel ye must find, 

l A metaphor from falconry. S assault. # 

* every woman is a whore* if she can be on the sly. 



And frown it and face it, as though ye would fight, 

F ret yourself for anger and for despight; 

Hear no man, whatsoever they say, 

But do as ye list, and take your own way. 

Magn. Thy words and mv mind oddly well accord. 

Court, jib. What should ye do else? are not you a lord? 

Let your lust and liking stand for a law; 

Be wresting and writhing, and away draw. 

An ye see a man that with him ye be not pleased, r 

And that your mind cannot well be eased. 

As if a man fortune to touch you on the quick, 

Then feign yourself diseased and make yourself sick: 

To stir up your stomach you must you forge. 

Call for a cawdle and cast up your gorge, 

With “Cock’s arms, rest shall I none have 
Till I be revenged on that whoreson knave ! 

Ah, how my stomach wambleth ! I am all in a sweat ! 

Is there no whoreson that knave that will beat?” 

Magn. By Cock’s wounds, a wondrous fellow thou art! 
For oft times such a wambling goeth over my heart; 

Yet I am not heart-sick, but that me list. 

For mirth I have him curried, beaten, and blist, 1 
Him that I loved not and made him to lowt 
I am forthwith as whole as a trout - 
For such abusion I use now and then. 

Court, jib. It is none abusion, sir, in a noble man. 

It is a princely pleasure and a lordly mind; 

Such lusts at large may not be left behind. 

Stage 3, Scene 23 

Here cometh in Cloaked Collusion with Measure 

CL Col. ( aside to Measure). Stand still here, and ye shall see 
That for your sake I will fall on my knee. 

r [Measure waits at the door . 



Court. Ab . Sir, Sober Sadness cometh, wherefore it be? 
Magn. Stand up, sir, ye are welcome to me. 

CL Col. Please it your grace, at the contemplation 
Of my poor instance and supplication, 

Tenderly to consider in your advertence, 

Of our blessed Lord, sir, at the reverence. 

Remember the good service that Measure hath you done, 
And that ye will not cast him away so soon. 

Jldagn. My friend, as touching to this your motion, 

I may say to you I have but small devotion; 

Howbeit, at your instance I will the rather 
Do as much as for mine owne father. 

CL Col. Nay, sir, that affection ought to be reserved, 

For of your grace I have it nought deserved; 

But if it like you that I might round 1 in your ear 
To shew you my mind, I would have the less fear. 

Magn. Stand a little aback, sir, and let him come hither. 
Court. Ab. With a good will, sir, God speed you both 

CL Col. {aside to Magnificence). Sir, so it is: this man is 
here by. 

That for him to labour he hath prayed me heartily; 
Notwithstanding to you be it said, 

To trust in me he is but disceived; 

For, so help me God, for you he is not meet: 

I speak the softlier, because he should not weet. 

Magn . Come hither, Pleasure, you shall hear mine intent: 
Measure, ye know well, with him I cannot be content. 

And surely, as I am now advised, 

I will have him re-hated and dispised. 

How say ye, sirs, herein what is best? 

Court. Ab. By mine advise with you, in faith, he shall not rest 
CL Col. Yet, sir, reserved your better judgement, 

It were better he spake with you ere he went, 

That he know not but that I have suppleed 
All that I can his matter for to speed, » 

1 whisper* 



Magn. Now, by your troth, gave he you not a bribe? 

Cl. Col. Yes, with his hand I made him to subscribe 
A bill of record for an annual rent. 

Court . Ab. But for all that he is like to have a glent. 1 
Cl. Col. Y ea, by my troth, I shall warrant you for me, 

And he may go to the devil, so that I may have my fee, 
What care I? 

Magn. By the mass, well said. 

Court. Ab. What force* ye, so that ye be paid? „ 

CL Col. But yet, lo, I would, ere that he went, 

Lest that he thought that his money were evil spent. 

That ye would look on him, though it were not long. 

Magn . Well canst thou help a priest to sing a song! 

Cl. Col. So it is all the manner nowadays, 

For to use such hafting and crafty ways. 

Court. Ab. He telleth you truth, sir, as I you ensure. 

Magn. Well, for thy sake the better I may endure 
That he come hither, and to give him a look 
That he shall like the worse all this woke. 3 
CL Col. I care not how soon he be refused, 

So that I may craftily be excused. 

Court. Ab. Where is he? 

CL Col. Mary, I made him abide. 

Whilst I came to you, a little here beside. 

Magn. Well, call him, and let us hear him reason, 

And we will be communing in the mean season. 

Court. Ab. This is a wise man, sir, wheresoever ye had him. 
Magi. An honest person, I tell you, and a sad. 

Court. Ab. He can full craftily this matter bring about. 
Magn. Whilst I Jiave him, I need nothing doubt. 

[Cloaked Collusion brings Measure forward , 
while Magnificence looks on him very loftily. 

CL Col. By the mass, I have done that I can, 

And more than ever I did for any man: 

1 trow, yd* heard yourself what I said. 

1 falL 2 care. 3 week. 


Meets . Nav, indeed; but I saw how ye prayed. 

And made instance for me by likelihode. 1 
CL Col. Nay, I tell you, I am not wont to fode 2 
Them that dare put their trust in me; 

And thereof ye shall a larger proof see. 

Meas . Sir, God reward you as ye have deserved: 

But think you with Magnificence I shall be reserved? 

CL Col. By my troth, I cannot tell you that; 

.|Jut, an I were as ye, I would not set a gnat 
My Magnificence, nor yet none of his, 

For, go when ye shall, of you shall he miss. 

Meas. Sir, as ye say. 

CL Col. Nay, come on with me. 

Yet once again I shall fall on my knee 
For your sake, whatsoever befall; 

I set not a fly, and all go to all. 

Meas . The Holy Ghost be with your grace. 

CL CoL Sir, I beseech you, let pity have some place 
In your breast towards this gentleman. 

Magn. I was your good lord till that ye began 

So masterfully upon you for to take 

With my servants, and such masteries 5 gan make. 

That wholly my mind with you is miscontent; 

Wherefore I will that ye be resident 
With me no longer. 

CL CoL Say somewhat now, let see, 

For your self. 

Meas. Sir, if I might permitted be, 

I would to you say a word or twain. 

Magn. What, wouldest thou, lurdain, with me brawl again? 
Have him hence, I say, out of my sight; 

That day I see him I shall be worse all night! 

Court. Ah. Hence, thou haynard, out of the doors fast! 

[Here Measure goeth out of the place with 
Courtly Abusion. 

*as it appeared. 

55 trick. 



Stage 3. Scene 24 

Magn. Alas, my stomach fareth as it would cast! 

CL Cel. Abide, sir, abide, let me hold your head. 

Magn. A bowl or a basin, I say, for God’s bread ! 

Ah, my head! But is the whoreson gone? 

God give him a mischief! Nay, now let me alone. 

CL, Col. A good drift, sir, a pretty feat: 

By the good Lord, yet your temples beat. 

Magn . Nay, so God me help, it was no great vexation, 

For I am panged oft times of this same fashion. 

CL CoL Cock’s arms, how Pleasure plucked him forth ! 
Magn. Y ea, walk he must, it was no better worth. 

CL CoL Sir, now methink your heart is well eased. 

Magn. Now Measure is gone I am the better pleased. 

CL CoL So to be ruled by Measure, it is a pain! 

Magn. Mary, I ween he would not be glad to come again ! 
CL CoL So I wot not what he should do here: 

Where men’s bellies is measured, there is no cheer; 

For I hear but few men that give any praise 
Unto Measure, I say, nowadays. 

Magn. Measure, tut! what, the devil of hell! 

Scantily one with Measure that will dwell. 

Ck CoL Not among noble men, as the world goeth: 

It is no wonder therefore though ye be wroth 

With Measure. Where all nobleness is, there I have past: 

They catch that catch may, keep and hold fast, 

Out of all measure themselves to enrich: 

No force 1 what though his neighbour die in a ditch. 

With polling and plucking out of all measure, 

Thus must ye stuff and store your treasure. 

Magn. Y et sometime, parde, I must use largesse. 

CL CoL Yea, mary, sometime in a mess of vergess, 2 
As in a trifle or in a thing of nought. 

As giving a thing that ye never bought: 

It is the guise now, I say, over all. 

Largesse in words, for rewards are but small: 

^one cares. * verjuice. 



To make fair promise, what are ye the worse? 

Let me have the rule of your purse. 

Magn . I have taken it to Largesse and Libertie. 

CL Col . Then it is done as it should be: 

But use your largesse by the advise of me, 

And I shall warrant you wealth and libertie. 

Magn. Say on, methink your reasons be profound. 

CL Col. Sir, of my counsel this shall be the ground; 

To chose out ii. iii. of such as you love best, 

And let all your fancies upon them rest; 

Spare for no cost to give them pound and penny. 

Better to make three rich than for to make many; 

Give them more than enough and let them not lack, 

And as for all other let them truss and pack; 

Pluck from an hundred, and give it to three, 

Let neither patent ’scape them nor fee; 

And wheresoever you will fall to a reckoning, 

Those three will be ready even at your beckoning, 

For them shall you have at liberty to lowt; 

Let them have all, and the other go without: 

Thus joy without measure you shall have. 

Magn . Thou sayst truth, by the heart that God me gave! 
For, as thou sayst, right so shall it be: 

And here I make thee upon Libertie 
To be supervisor, and on Largesse also, 

For as thou wilt, so shall the game go; 

For in Pleasure, and Surveyance, and also in thee 
I have set my whole felicitie, 

And such as you will shall lack no promotion. 

CL Col. Sir, sith that in me ye have such devotion, 
Committing to me and to my fellows twain 
Your wealth and felicity, I trust we shall obtain 
To do you service after your appetite. 

Magn. In faith, and your service right well I shall acquite; 
And therefore hie you hence, and take this oversight. 

CL Col. Now, Jesu preserve you, sir, prince most $f might! 

[ Exit Cloaked Ccwllusion. 



Stage 3. Scene 25 

Magn. Thus, I say, I am environed with solace; 

I dread no dints of fatal destiny. 

Well were that lady might stand in my grace, 

Me to embrace and love most specially: 

Ah, Lord, so I would halse her heartily. 

So I would clepe her, so I would kiss her sweet! 

Enter Folly 

FoL Mary, Christ grant ye catch no cold on your feet! 
Magn . Who is this? 

FoL Conceit, sir, your own man. 

Magn. What tidings with you, sir? I befool thy brain-pan ! 
FoL By our lakin, sir, I have been a hawking for the wild swan. 
My hawk is ramage, 1 and it happed that she ran - 
Flew I should say - into an old barn 
To reach at a rat, I could not her warn; 

She pinched her pinion, by God, and catched harm: 

It was a runner; nay, fool, I warrant her blood warm! 
Magn. Ah, sir, thy gerfalcon and thou be hanged together! 
FoL And, sir, as I was coming to you hither, 

I ,§aw a fox suck on a cow’s udder, 

And with a lime-rod I took them both together. 

I trow it be a frost, for the way is slither: 

See, for God avow, for cold as I chither. 

Magn. Thy words hang together as feathers in the wind. 
FoL Ah, sir, told I not you how I did find 
A knave and a churl, and all of one kind? 

I saw a weathercock wag with the wind; 

Great marvel I had, and mused in my mind; 

The hounds ran before, and the hare behind; 

I saw a losell lead a lurdain, and they were both blind; 

I saw a sowter 2 go to supper ere ever he had dined. 

Magn . By Cock’s heart, thou art a fine merry knave! 

FoL I make God avow, ye will none other men have. 

# 1 wild, coy. 




Magn . What sayst thou? 

FoL Alary, I pray God your mastership to save: 

I shall give you a gaud 1 of a gosling that I have, 

The gander and the goose both grazing on one grave; 

Then Rowland the reve 2 ran, and I began to rave, 

And with a bristle of a boar his beard did I shave. 

Magn. If ever I heard such another, God give me shame ! 
FoL Sim Saddiegoose was my sire, and Dawcock my dame: 

I could, an I list, gar 3 you laugh at a game. 

How a woodcock wrestled with a lark that was lame: 

The bittern said boldly that they were to blame; 

The fieldfare would have fiddled, and it would not frame; 
The crane and the curlew thereat 5 gan to grame 4 ; 

The suite snivled in the snout and smiled at the game. 
Magn. Cock’s bones, heard you ever such another! 

FoL See, sir, I beseech you, Largesse my brother. 

Enter Fancy 

Magn. What tidings with you, sir, that you look so sad? 
Fan. When ye know what I know ye will not be glad ! 

FoL What, brother brainsick, how farest thou? 

Magn. Yea, let be thy japes, and tell me how 
The case requireth. 

Fan. Alas, alas, an heavy meeting l 

I would tell you, an if I might for weeping. 

FoL What, is all your mirth now turned to sorow? 
Farewell till soon, adew till to-morrow. 

[Exit Folly. 

Magn . I pray thee, Largesse, let be thy sobbing. 

Fan . Alas, sir, ye are undone with stealing and robbing! 

Ye sent us a supervisor for to take heed: 

Take heed of yourself, for now ye have need. 

Magn. What, hath Sadness beguiled me so? 

Fan. Nay, madness hath beguiled you and many mo; 

For Liberty is gone and also Felicitie. » 

*jest. * bailiff. 3 make. 4 g?ieve. 


Magn. Gone? alas, ye have undone me! 

Fan. Nay, he that sent us, Cloaked Collusion, 

And your painted Pleasure, Courtly Abusion, 

And your demeanour with Counterfeit Countenance, 

And your surveyor. Crafty Conveyance, 

Ere ever we were ware brought us in adversity, 

And hath robbed you quite from all felicity. 

Magn. Why, is this the largesse that I have used? 

Fan. Nay, it was your fondness that. ye have used. # 

Magn. And is this the credence that I gave to the letter? 
Fan. Why, could not your wit serve you no better? 

Magn. Why, who would have thought in you such guile? 
Fan. What? yes, by the rood, sir, it was I all this while 
That you trusted, and Fancy is my name; 

And Folly, my brother, that made you much game. 

Here cometh in Adversity 

Magn. Alas, who is yonder, that so grimly lookes? 

Fan. A dew, for I will not come in his clutches. 

[Exit Fancy. 

Stage 4. Scene 26. Overthrow 

Magn . Lord, so my flesh trembleth now for drede ! 

[Here Magnificence is beaten down , and spoiled 
from all his goods and raiment . 

Adver. I am Adversity, that for thy misdeed 
From God am sent to ’quite thee thy mede. 

Vile vilyard , 1 thou must not now my dint withstand, 

Thou must abide the dint of my hand: 

Lie there, losell, for all thy pomp and pride; 

Thy pleasure now with pain and trouble shall be tried. 

The stroke of God, Adversity I hight; 

I pluck dbwn king, prince, lord, and knight, 

^Id man. 


2 35 

I rush at them roughly, and make them lie fuii low, 

And in their most trust I make them overthrow. 

This lose!! was a lord, and lived at his lust, 

And now, like a lurdain, he lieth in the dust: 

He knew not himself, his heart was so high; 

Now is there no man that will set by him a flv: 

He was wont to boast, brag, and to brace; 

Now dare he not for shame look one in the face: 

AJ1 wordly wealth for him too little was; 

Now hath he right nought, naked as an ass: 

Sometime without measure he trusted in gold, 

And now without measure he shall have hunger and cold. 

Lo, sirs, thus I handle them all 

That follow their fancies in folly to fall: 

Man or woman, of what estate they be, 

I councel them beware of Adversitie. 

Of sorrowful servants I have many scores: 

I visit them sometimes with blains and with sores; 

With botches and carbuncles in care I them knit; 

With the gowt I make them to groan where they sit; 
Some I make lepers and lazars full hoarse; 

And from that they love best some I diverse; 

Some with the marmoll 1 to halt I them make; 

And some to cry out of the bone-ache; 

And some I visit with burning of fire; 

Of some I wring of the neck like a wire; 

And some I make in a rope to totter and waiter 2 ; 

And some for to hang themself in a halter; 

And some I visit with battle, war, and murther, 

And make each man to slay the other; 

To drown or to slay themself with a knife; 

And all is for their ungracious life. 

Y et sometime I strike where is none offence, 

Because I would prove men of their patience. 

But, nowadays, to strike I have great cause, 

Lidderns so little set by God’s laws. • 

2 tumble. 


Fathers and mothers, that be negligent, 

And suffer their children to have their intent, 

To guide them virtuously that will not remember, 

Them or their children oft time I dismember; 

Their children because that they have no meekness; 

I visit their fathers and mothers with sickness; 

And if I see thereby they will not amend, 

Then mischief suddenly I them send; 

For there is nothing that more displeaseth God ^ 

Than from their children to spare the rod 
Of correction, but let them have their will. 

Some I make lame, and some I do kill; 

And some I strike with a frenzy; 

Of some of their children I strike out the eye; 

And where the father by wisdom worship hath won, 

I send oft times a fool to be his son. 

Wherefore of Adversity look ye be ware, 

For when I come cometh sorrow and care: 

For I strike lords of realms and lands 
That rule not by measure that they have in their hands. 
That sadly rule not their household men; 
l am God’s prepositor,* I print them with a pen; 
^Because of their negligence and of their wanton vages , 2 
I visit them and strike them with many sore plagues. 

To take, sirs, example of that I you tell, 

And beware of Adversity by my counsell, 

Take heed of this caitif that lieth here on ground; 

Behold, how Fortune on him hath frowned! 

For though we shew you this in game and play. 

Yet it proveth earnest, ye may see, every day. 

For now will I from this caitif go. 

And take mischief and vengeance of other mo 
That hath deserved it as well as he. 

Ho, where art thou? come hither, Povertie, 

Take this caitif to thy lore. [Exit* 

*A scholar that is an overseer. 




Stage 4. Scene 27 
Enter Poverty 

Paver . Ah, my hones ache, my limbs be sore; 

Alas, I have the sciatica full evil in my hip! 

Alas, where is youth that was wont for to skip? 

I am lowsy, and unliking, and full of scurf, 

My colour is tawny, coloured as turf. 

Fam Poverty, that all men doth hate, 

I am baited with dogs at every man’s gate; 

I am ragged and rent, as ye may see; 

F ull few but they have envy at me. 

Now must I this carcass lift up; 

He dined with delight, with Poverty he must sup. 

Rise up, sir, and welcome unto me. 

[Here he goeth to lift up Magnificence, and places 
a coverlet over him. 

Magn. Alas, where is now my gold and fee? 

Alas, I say, whereto am I brought? 

Alas, alas, alas, I die for thought! 

Paver . Sir, all this would have been thought on before: 

He woteth not what wealth is that never was sore. 

Magn . Fie, fie, that ever I should be brought in this snare! 
I wened once never to have knowen care. 

Pover . Lo, such is this world! I find it writ, 

In wealth to beware, and that is wit. 

Magn. In wealth to beware, if I had had grace. 

Never had I been brought in this case. 

Pover . Now, sith it will no other be. 

All that God sendeth, take it In gre V 

For, though you were sometime of noble estate. 

Now must you learn to beg at every man’s gate. 

Magn. Alas, that ever I should be so shamed! 

Alas, that ever I Magnificence was named I 

fin-good part. ■■ >/ . 



Alas, that ever I was so hard happed, 

In misery and wretchedness thus to be lapped ! 

Alas, that I could not myself no better guide! 

Alas, in my cradle that I had not died! 

Pover. Yea, sir, yea, leave all this rage, 

And pray to God your sorrows to assuage: 

It is folly to grudge against his visitation. 

With heart contrite make your suplication 
Unto your Maker, that made both you and me. 

And, when it pleaseth God, better may be. 

Magn. Alas, I wot not what I should pray! 

Pover , Remember you better, sir, beware what ye say, 

For dread ye displease the high Dietie. 

Put your will in his will, for surely it is he 
That may restore you again to felicitie, 

And bring you again out of adversitie. 

Therefore poverty look patiently ye take, 

And remember he suffered much more for your sake, 
Howbeit of all sin he was innocent, 

And ye have deserved this punishment. 

Magn . Alas, with cold my limbs shall be marred ! 

Pover . Yea, sir, now must ye learn to lie hard, 

That was wont to lie on feather-beds of down ; 

Now must your feet lie higher than your crown: 

Where you were wont to have caudles for your head. 

Now must you munch mammocks 1 and lumps of bread 5 
And where you had changes of rich array, 

Now lap you in a coverlet full fain that ye may; 

And where that ye were pomped with what ye wold, 

Now must ye suffer both hunger and cold: 

With courtly silks ye were wont to be draw. 

Now must ye learn to lie on the straw; 

Your skin that was wrapped in shirts of Rennes, 

Now must ye be storm ybeaten with showers and rains; 

Your head that was wont to be happed most droopy and drowsy, 
Now shajl ye be scabbed, scurvy, and lowsy. 



Magn. Fie on this world, full of treachery. 

That ever nobleness should lie thus wretchedly! 

Paver. Sir, remember the turn of Fortune’s wheel, 

That wantonly can wink, and winch i with her heel. 
Now she will laugh, forthwith she will frown; 

Suddenly set up, and suddenly plucked down; 

She danceth variance with mutability; 

Now all in wealth, forthwith in poverty; 

% In her promise there is no sikerness 2 ; 

All her delight is set in doubleness. 

Magn. Alas, of Fortune I may well complain! 

Paver. Yea, sir, yesterday will not be called again; 

But yet, sir, now in this case, 

Take it meekly, and thank God of his grace; 

For now go I will beg for you some meat; 

It is folly against God for to plead; 

I will walk now with my begger’s bags, 

And wrap you the whiles with these homely rags. 

[ 'Going away , he says these wards : 

Ah, how my limbs be lither 3 and lame! 

Better it is to beg than to be hanged with shame; 

Yet many had liefer hanged be, 

Than for to beg their meat for charitie; 

They think it no shame to rob and steal, 

Yet were they better to beg a great deal; 

F or by robbing they run in manus tuas queck, * 

But begging is better medicine for the neck; 

Yea, mary, is it, yea, so may I go. 

Ah, Lord God, how the gowt wringeth me by the toe! 


^ick, “surety. 3 bad. 

4 I.e. get themselves quickly hanged, and say, “Into thy hands, O 
Lord, I commend my spirit.” 



Stage 4. Scene 28 

Here Magnificence dolorously makeih his moan 

Magn . O feeble fortune, O doleful destiny! 

O hateful hap, O careful cruelty! 

O sighing sorrow, O thoughtful misery! 

O redless 1 ruth, O painful poverty! 

O dolorous heart, O hard adversity! 

0 odious distress, O deadly pain and woe! 

For worldy shame I wax both wan and bio. 2 

Where is now my wealth and my noble estate? 

Where is now my treasure, my lands, and my rent? 
Where is now all my servants that I had here of late? 
Where is now my gold upon them that I spent? 
Where is now all my rich habiliment? 

Where is now my kin, my friends, and my noble blood 
Where is now all my pleasure and my wordly good? 

Alas, my folly! alas, my wanton will! 

1 may no more speak, till I have weapt my fill. 

Stage 4. Scene 29 

Here cometh zV Liberty 

Lih With, yea mary, sirs, thus should it be: 

I kissed her sweet, and she kissed me; 

I danced the darling on my knee; 

I gard her gasp, I gard he gle, 3 
With “Dance on the lea, the lea!” 

I bassed that baby with heart so free; 

She is the bote of all my bale *: 

Ah so! that sigh was far-fet 5 ! 

To love that lovesome I will not let; 


Unavailing. *livid. 3 wink. 

‘remedy of all my sorrow. 5 far-fetched. 


My heart Is wholly on her set: 

I plucked her by the patlet 1 ; 

At my devise I with her met; 

My fancy fairly on her I set; 

So merrily singeth the nightingale! 

In lust and liking my name Is Libertie: 

I am desired with highest and lowest degree; 

I live as me list, I leap out at large; 

Of earthly thing I have no care nor charge; 

I am president of princes, I prick them with pride: 
What is he living that Liberty would lack? 

A thousand pound with Liberty may hold no tack; 
At liberty a man may be bold for to break; 

Wealth without liberty goeth all to wreak. 

But yet, sirs, hardly* one thing learn of me: 

I warn you beware of too much libertie, 

For iotum in toto 3 is not worth an haw; 

Too hardy, or too much, too free of the daw 4 ; 

Too sober, too sad, too subtil, too wise; 

Too merry, too mad, too gigling, too nice 6 ; 

Too full of fancies, too lordly, too proud; 

Too homely, too holy, too lewd, and too lowd; 

Too flattering, too smattering, too too out of har*; 
Too clattering, too chattering, too short, and too far 
Too jetting, too jagging, and too full of japes; 
Too mocking, too mowing , 7 too like a jacknapes: 
Thus iotum in toto groweth up, as ye may see. 

By means of madness, and too much libertie; 

For I am a virtue, if I be well used. 

And I am a vice where I am abused. 

Magn « Ah, woe worth thee. Liberty, now thou sayst 
That I used thee too much, sore may I rue. 

Lib. What, a very vengeance, I say, who Is that? 
What brothel , 8 I say, is yonder bound in a mat? 

Neckerchief. Assuredly. *i.e. excess. # 

4 i.e. too much fooling. *wanton. *out o 

7 mimicking. 8 wretch. 


Magn. I am Magnificence, that sometime thy master was. 
Lib . What, is the world thus come to pass? 

Cock’s arms, sirs, will ye not see 
How he is undone by the means of me? 

For if Measure had ruled Liberty as he began, 

This lurdain that here lieth had been a nobleman. 

But he abused so his free liberty. 

That now he hath lost all his felicity, 

Not thorough largesse of liberal expence, „ 

But by the way of fancy insolence; 

For liberality is most convenient 
A prince to use with all his whole intent, 

Largely rewarding them that have deserved, 

And so shall a nobleman nobly be served. 

But nowadays as hucksters they huck and they stick, 

And pinch at the payment of a pudding prick i; 

A laudable largesse, I tell you, for a lord, 

To prate for the patching of a potshord! 

Spare for the ’spence of a noble, 2 that his honour might save. 
And spend hundreds for the pleasure of a knave! 

But so long they reckon with their reasons amiss 
That they lose their liberty and all that there is. 

Magn . Alas, that ever I occupied such abusion! 

Lib. Yea, for now it hath brought thee to confusion: 

For, where I am occupied and used wilfully, 

It cannot continue long prosperously; 

As evidently in reckless youth you may see, 

How many come to mischief for too much liberty; 

And some in the world their brain is so idle 
That they set their children to run on the bridle, 

In youth to be wanton and let them have their will; 

An they never thrive in their age, it shall not greatly skill. 
Some fall to folly themself for to spill. 

And some fall preaching at the Tower Hill; 

Some hath so much liberty of one thing and other 
That neijher they set by father nor mother; 

1 skewer tSat fastens the pudding-bag. 2 i.e. the coin so called. 


Some have so much liberty that they fear no sin. 

Till, as ye see many times, they shame all their kin, 

I am so lusty to look on, so fresh, and so free, 

That nuns will leave their holiness, and run after me; 

Friars with folly I make them so fain, 

They cast up their obedience to catch me again, 

At liberty to wander and walk over all. 

That lustily they leap sometime their cloister wall 

% [Here someone blows a horn behind the audience. 

Yonder is a whoreson for me doth rechate 1 : 

Adew, sirs, for I think lest that I come too late, 

[Here Liberty goes out 

Magn . O good Lord, how long shall I endure 
This misery, this careful wretchedness? 

Of worldly wealth, alas, who can be sure? 

In Fortune’s friendship there is no steadfastness: 

She hath deceived me with her doubleness. 

F or to be wise all men may learn of me, 

In wealth to beware of hard adversitie. 

[Here cometh in Crafty Conveyance and Cloaked 
Collusion, with a lusty laughter . * 

Cr. Con. Ha, ha, ha! for laughter I am like to brast. 

Cl. Col. Ha, ha, ha! for sport I am like to spew and cast. 

Cr. Con. What hath thou gotten, in faith, to thy share? 

CL Col. In faith, of his coffers the bottoms are bare. 

Cr. Con. As for his plate and silver, and such trash, 

I warrant you, I have given it a lash. 

CL Col. What, then he may drink out of a stone cruse? 

Cr. Con. With, yea, sir, by Jesu that slain was with Jews! 
He may rince a pitcher, for his plate is to wed. s 
CL Col. In faith, and he may dream on a dagswane for any 

Cr. Con. By my troth, we have rifled him meetly well! 

*sound a retreat (in hunting). 



2 44 

CL CoL Yea, but thank me thereof every deal. 

Cr. Con . Thank thee thereof, in the devil’s date! 

Cl. CoL Leave thy prating, or else I shall lay thee on the 

Cr . Con. Nay,- to wrangle, I warrant thee, it is but a stone 

CL CoL By the mass, I shall cleave thy head to the waist. 

Cr. Con. Yea, wilt thou cleanly cleave me in the clift with 
thy nose? 

CL CoL I shall thrust in thee my dagger — 

Cr. Con. Thorough the leg into the hose. 

CL CoL Nay, whoreson, here is my glove; take it up, an 
thou dare. 

Cr. Con. Turd, thou art good to be a man of war! 

CL CoL I shall skelp thee on the scalp; lo, seest thou that? 

Cr. Con. What, wilt thou skelp me? thou dare not look on 
a gnat. 

CL CoL By Cock’s bones, I shall bliss 1 thee, an thou be too 

Cr. Con. Nay, then thou wilt ding the devil, an thou be not 
hold. * 

CL CoL But wottest thou, whoreson? I rede 3 thee to be wise. 

Cr. Con. Now I rede thee beware, I have warned thee twice. 

CL CoL Why, wendest thou that I forbear thee for thine 
own sake? 

Cr. Con. Peace, or I shall wring thy be in a brake? 

CL CoL Hold thy hand, daw, off thy dagger, and stint of thy 

Or I shall fawchin 4 thy flesh, and scrape thee on the skin. 

Cr. Con. Yea, wilt thou, hangman? I say, thou cavell 5 ! 

CL CoL Nay, thou rude ravener, rain-beated javell ! 

Cr. Con. What, thou Colin Coward, knowen and tried! 

CL CoL Nay, thou false-hearted dastard, thou dare not abide! 

Cr. Con. And if there were none to displease but thou and I, 

Thou should not ’scape, whoreson, but thou should die, 

*wound. 2 holden. 3 advise. 

*cut. 5 A horse (properly). 



Cl Col 1 Nay, I shall wring thee, whoreson, on the wrist* 

Cr. Con, Mary, I defy thy best and thy worst. 

[Here cometh in Counterfeit Countenance, 

C. Count, What, a very vengeance, need all these words? 

Go together by the heads, and give me your swords. 

Cl Col So he is the worst brawler that ever was born. ■ 

Cr. Con, In faith, so to suffer thee, it is but a scorn. 

C. Count, Now let us be all one, and let us live in rest, 

For we be, sirs, but a few of the best. 

Cl Col By the mass, man, thou shalt find me reasonable, 

Cr, Con. In faith, and I will be to reason agreeable. 

C. Count. Then I trust to God and the holy rood, 

Here shall be no great shedding of blood. 

Cl Col By our lakin, sir, not by my will. 

Cr. Con . By the faith that I owe to God, and I will sit still, 

C. Count Well said. But, in faith, what was your quarrel? 

Cl Col Mary, sir, this gentleman called me a javell 
Cr. Con. Nay, by Saint Mary, it was ye called me knave. 

Cl Col Mary, so ungodly language you me gave. 

C. Count. Ah, we shall have more of this matter yet? 

Methink ye are not greatly encumbered with wit, 

Cr. Con . God’s foot, I warrant you I am a gentleman born. 

And thus to be faced 1 I think it great scorn. 

C. Count I cannot well tell of your dispositions; 

An ye be a gentleman, ye have knave’s conditions. 

Cl Col, By God, I tell you I will not be out-faced ! 

Cr. Con , By the mass, I warrant thee, I will not be braced. 

C. Count. Tush, tush, it is a great defaut; 

The one of you is too proud, the other is too haut. 

Tell me briefly whereupon ye began. 

Cl Col. Mary, sir, he said that he was a prettier man 

Than I was in opening of locks; ■ 

And, I tell you, I disdain much of his mocks. 

Cr. Con, Thou saw never yet but I did my part, 

The lock of a casket to make for to start. 



C. Count . Nay, I know well enough ye are both well-handed 
To grope a gardevians, 1 though it be well banded. 

Cl, CoL I am the better yet in a budget. 

Cr, Con . And I the better in a male. 

C . Count. T ush, these matters that ye move are but sops in ale ; 
Your trimming and tramming by me must be tanged. 

For, had I not been, ye both had been hanged, 

When we with Magnificence goods made chevisance, 2 
Magn. And therefore our Lord send you a very vengeance 1 
C. Count . What begger art thou that thus doth bane and 

Magn. Ye be the thieves, I say, away my goods did carry. 

CL CoL Cock’s bones, thou begger, what is thy name? 
Magn. Magnificence I was, whom ye have brought to shame. 
G. Count. Yea, but trow you, sirs, that this is he? 

Cr. Con. Go we near, and let us see. 

CL Col. By Cock’s bones, it is the same. 

Magn. Alas, alas, sirs, ye are to blame! 

I was your master, though ye think it scorn. 

And now on me ye gaure 3 and sporn. 

C. Count . Lie still, lie still now, with ill-hail 4 ! 

Cr. Con. Y ea, for thy language cannot thee avail. 

CL CoL Abide, sir, abide, I shall make him to piss. 

Magn. Now give me somewhat, for God’s sake I crave! 

Cr. Con. In faith, I give thee four quarters of a knave. 

C. Count, In faith, and I bequeath him the tooth-ache. 

CL CoL And bequeath him the bone-ache. 

Cr. Con. And bequeath him the gowt and the gin. 

CL CoL And bequeath him sorrow for his sin. 

C. Count. And I give him Christ’s curse. 

With never a penny in his purse. 

Cr. Con. And I give him the cough, the mur, 5 and the 
pose. 6 

CL CoL Yea, for requiam aeternam grow’th forth of his nose. 
But now let us make merry and good cheer ! 

C. Count. And to the tavern let us draw near. 

1 trunk. ~ 2 booty. 3 stare. 4 ill-health. 8 bad cold. 6 catarrh. 



Cr. Cm . And from thence to the half street , 1 

To get us there some fresh meat 

CL Col Why, is there any store of raw mutton*? 

C. Count. Yea, in faith, or else thou art too great a glutton! 
Cr. Con. But they say it is a queasy meat; 

It will strike a man mischievously in a heat. 

CL Col In fay, man, some ribs of the mutton be so rank 
That they will tire one ungraciously in the flank* 

C . Count Yea, and when ye come out of the shop, 

Ye shall be clapped with a colop. 

That will make you to halt and to hop, 

Cr. Con. Some be rested there that they think on it forty days, 
For there be whores there at all assays. 

CL Col . For the passion of God, let us go thither! 

[And they go hurriedly out of the place . 

Magn. Alas, mine own servants to shew me such reproach. 
Thus to rebuke me, and have me in despight! 

So shamefully to me, their master, to approach. 

That sometime was a noble prince of might! 

Alas, to live longer I have no delight! 

For to live in misery it is harder than death: 

I am weary of the world, for unkindness me sleth. 

Stage 4. Scene 31 
Here Despair comes in 

Des. Despair is my name, that Adversity doth follow: 

In time of distress I am ready at hand; 

I make heavy hearts with eyen full hollow; 

Of fervent charity I quench out the brand; 

Faith and Goodhope I make aside to stand; 

In God’s mercy, I tell them, is but folly to trust; 

All grace and pitie I lay in the dust* 

*Bankside, Southwark, where the brothels were* 

*i*e. whoresY' : ; ■*," 



What, liest thou there lingering, lewdly and loathsome? 

It is too late now thy sins to repent; 

Thou hast been so wayward, so wrangling, and so wrathsome, 
And so far thou art behind of thy rent. 

And so ungraciously thy days thou hast spent, 

That thou art not worthy to look God in the face. 

Magn. Nay, nay, man, I look never to have part of his grace; 

For I have so ungraciously my life misused, 

Though I ask mercy, I needs be refused, 

Des. No, no, for thy sins be so exceeding far, 

So innumerable and so full of despight, 

And against thy Maker thou hast made such war. 

That thou canst not have never mercy in his sight. 

Magn. Alas, my wickedness, that may I wite 1 ! 

But now I see well there is no better rede,* 

But sigh and sorrow, and wish myself dede. 

Des . Yea, rid thyself, rather than this life for to lead; 

The world waxeth weary of thee, thou livest too long. 

Here Mischief comes in 

Mis . And I, Mischief, am comen at need, 

Out of thy life thee for to lead : 

And look that it be not long 
Ere that thyself thou go hong 
With this halter good and strong; 

Or else with this knife cut out a thong 
Of thy throat-bowl, and rid thee out of pain: 

Thou art not the first himself hath slain. 

Lo, here is thy knife and a halter! and, ere we go further, 
Spare not thyself, but boldly thee murther. 

Des . Yea, have done at once without delay. 

Magn. r Shall I myself hang with an halter? nay; 

x blame. 



Nay, rather will I chose to rid me of this life 
In sticking myself with this fair knife. 

[Here Magnificence would slay himself with a hiif 

Mis. Alarum, alarum.! too long we abide! 

Des. Out, harrow, hell burneth ! where shall I me hide? 

Stage 5. Scene 32. Restoratio n 

Here Goodhope comes in. , Despair and Mischief flee 
away: Goodhope snatches away the knife , and says: 

Good. Alas, dear son, sore cumbered is thy mind. 

Thyself that thou would slay against nature and kind! 

Magn. Ah, blessed may ye be, sir! what shall I you call? 
Good. Goodhope, sir, my name is; remedy principall 
Against all sautes 1 of your ghostly foe. 

Who knoweth me, himself may never slo. 

Magn. Alas, sir, so I am lapped in adversitie. 

That Despair well nigh had mischieved me! 

For, had ye not the sooner been my refuge, 

Of damnation I had been drawen in the luge. s 

Good . Undoubted ye had lost yourself eternally. * 

There is no man may sin more mortally 

Than of wanhope* through the unhappy ways, 

By mischief to breviate and shorten his days. 

But, my good son, learn from Despair to flee. 

Wind you from wanhope, and acquaint you with me. 

A great misadventure, thy Maker to displease, 

Thyself mischieving to thine endless disease! 

There was never so hard a storm of misery 
But through Goodhope there may come remedy. 

Magn . Your words be more sweeter than any precious nard, 
They mollify so easily my heart that was so hard; 

There is no balm, ne gum of Araby 

More delectable than your language to me. • 

1 assaults. 5 '■ - v- v.^want fai^pe* 


Good . Sir, your physician is the grace of God, 

That you hath punished with his sharp rod, 

Goodhope, your Apothecary assigned am I : 

That God’s grace hath vexed you sharply, 

And pained you with a purgation of odious poverty. 
Mixed with bitter aloes of hard adversity; 

Now must I make you an electuary soft, 

I to minister it, you to receive it oft, 

With rhubarb of repentance in you for to rest; 

With drams of devotion your diet must be drest; 

With gums ghostly of glad heart and mind, 

To thank God of his sond , 1 and comfort ye shall find. 
Put from you presumption and admit humility. 

And heartily thank God of your adversity; 

And love that Lord that for your love was dead, 
Wounded from the foot to the crown of the head: 

For who loveth God can ail nothing but good; 

He may help you, he may mend your mood: 
Prosperity by him is given solaciously to man. 
Adversity by him therewith now and then; 

Health of body his business to achieve, 

Disease and sickness his conscience to discrieve , 2 
Affliction and trouble to prove his patience. 
Contradiction to prove his sapience, 

Grace of assistance his measure to declare. 

Sometime to fall, another time to beware. 

And now ye have had, sir, a wonderous fall. 

To learn you hereafter for to beware withall. 

How say you, sir? can ye these words grope? 

Magn. Y ea, sir, now am I armed with goodhope, 
And sore I repent me of my wilfulness; 

I ask God mercy of my negligess. 

Under Goodhope enduring ever still, 

Me humbly committing unto God’s will 

Good. Then shall you be soon delivered from distress, 

For now I see coming to youward Redress. 





Stage 5. Scene 33 
Here Redress comes in 

Red. Christ he among you, and the Holy Ghost! 

Good. He be your conduct, the Lord of mights most. 

Red. Sir, is your patient anything amended? 

Good. Yea, sir, he is sorry for that he hath offended. 

Red. How feel you yourself, my friend? how is your mind? 
Magn . A wretched man, sir, to my Maker unkind. 

Red. Yea, but have ye repented with heart contrite? 

Magn. Sir, the repentance I have no man can write. 

Red. And have ye banished from you all despair? 

Magn. Yea, wholly to Good hope I have made mv repare. 
Good. Questionless he doth me assure 
In goodhope alway for to endure. 

Red. Then stand up, sir, in God’s name! 

And I trust to ratify and amend your fame. 

Goodhope, I pray you with hearty affection 
To send over to me Sad Circumspection, 

Good. Sir, vour request shall not be delayed. 

[He goes out. 

Red. Now surely, Magnificence, I am right well apayed 
Of that I see you now in the state of grace; 

Now shall ye be renewed with solace: 

Take now upon you this habiliment. 

And to that I say give good advertisement. 1 

[Magnificence takes the garment. 

Magn. To your request I shall be comformable. 

Red. First, I say, with mind firm and stable 
Determine to amend all your wanton excess. 

And be ruled by me, which am called Redress. 

Redress my name is, that little am I used 
As the world requireth, but rather I am refused. 

Redress should be at the reckoning in every account. 

And specially to redress that were out of joint. * 



Full many things there be that lacketh redress. 
The which were too long now to express; 

But redress is redless, * and may do no correction. 
Now welcome,, forsooth. Sad Circumspection. 

Stage 5. Scene 34 

Mer~e cometh in Sad Circumspection, saying; 

Sad Cir . Sir, after your message I hied me hither straight, 
For to understand your pleasure and also your mind. 

Red . Sir, to acquaint you the continue of my conceit, 

Is from adversity Magnificence to unbind. 

Sad Cir. How fortuned you, Magnificence, so far to fall 

Rdagn, Sir, the long absence of you, Sad Circumspection, 
Caused me of adversity to fall in subjection. 

Red, All that he saith, of truth doth proceed; 

For where Sad Circumspection is long out of the way, 
Of adversity it is to stand in drede. 

* Sad Cir . Without fail, sir, that is no nay; 

Circumspection inhateth all running astray. 

But, sir, by me to rule first ye began. 

Rdagn. My wilfulness, sir, excuse I ne can. 

Sad Cir . Then ye of folly in times past you repent? 

Magn. Soothly, to repent me I have great cause. 

Howbeit, from you I received a letter sent. 

Which contained in it a special clause 
That I should use largesse. 

Sad Cir . Nay, sir, there a pause. 

Red. Yet let us see this matter thoroughly engrosed. 

Rdagn. Sir, this letter ye sent to me, at Pontoise was enclosed. 

powerless to act alone. 



Sad Cir. Who brought you that letter, wote ye what he liight? 

Magn. Largesse, sir, by his credence was his name. 

Sad Cir. This letter ye speak of, never did I write. 

Red. To give so hasty credence ye were much to blame. 
Magn. Trith it is, sir; for after he wrought me much 

And caused me also to use too much Liberty, 

And made also Measure to be put from me. 

Red. Then Wealth with you might in no wise abide. 

Sad Cir . Ah ha! Fancy and Folly met with you, I trow. 
Red. It would be found so, if it were well tried. 

Magn. Surely my wealth with them was overthrow. 

Sad Cir. Remember you, therefore, how late ye were low. 
Red. Yea, and beware of unhappy Abusion. 

Sad Cir. And keep you from counterfeiting of Cloaked 

Magn. Sir, in Goodhope I am to amend. 

Red. Use not then your countenance for to counterfeit. 
Sad Cir . And from c rafters and hafters I you forfend. 

Stage 5. Scene 35 
Here Perseverance comes in 

Magn. Well, sir, after your councel my mind I will set. 
Red. What, brother Perseverance! surely well met. 

Sad Cir . Ye come hither as well as can be thought 

Per . I heard say that Adversity with Magni licence had fought 

Magn. Yea, sir, with Adversity I have been vexed. 

But Goodhope and Redress hath mended mine estate. 
And Sad Circumspection to me they have annexed. 

Red. What this man hath said, perceive ye his sentence? 1 
Magn. Yea, sir, from him my courage shall never flit 
Sad Cir . According to truth they be well devised. * 

*Some considerable corruption here. # 



Full many things there be that lacketh redress. 
The which were too long now to express; 

But redress is redless, 1 and may do no correction. 
Now welcome, forsooth, Sad Circumspection. 

Stage 5. Scene 34 

Here cometh in Sad Circumspection, saying: 

Sad Cir . Sir, after your message I hied me hither straight, 
For to understand your pleasure and also your mind. 

Red . Sir, to acquaint you the continue of my conceit, 

Is from adversity Magnificence to unbind. 

Sad Cir . How fortuned you, Magnificence, so far to fall 

Magn. Sir, the long absence of you, Sad Circumspection, 
Caused me of adversity to fall in subjection. 

Red. All that he saith, of truth doth proceed; 

For where Sad Circumspection is long out of the way, 
Of adversity it is to stand in drede. 

* Sad Cir . Without fail, sir, that is no nay; 

Circumspection inhateth all running astray. 

But, sir, by me to rule first ye began. 

Magn. My wilfulness, sir, excuse I ne can. 

Sad Cir. Then ye of folly in times past you repent? 

Magn. Soothly, to repent me I have great cause. 

Howbeit, from you I received a letter sent, 

Which contained in it a special clause 
That I should use largesse. 

Sad Cir ; Nay, sir, there a pause. 

Red. Yet let us see this matter thoroughly engrosed. 

Magn. £ir, this letter ye sent to me, at Pontoise was enclosed. 

powerless to act alone. 



Sad Cir . Who brought you that letter, wote ye what he hight? 

Magn . Largesse, sir, by his credence was his name. 

Sad Cir. This letter ye speak of, never did I write. 

Red. To give so hasty credence ye were much to blame. 
Magn . Trith it is, sir; for after he wrought me much 

And caused me also to use too much Liberty, 

And made also Measure to be put from me. 

Red. Then Wealth with you might in no wise abide. 

Sad Cir . Ah ha! Fancy and Folly met with you, I trow. 
Red. It would be found so, if it were well tried. 

Magn. Surely my wealth with them was overthrow. 

Sad Cir. Remember you, therefore, how late ye were low. 
Red. Yea, and beware of unhappy Abusion. 

Sad Cir . And keep you from counterfeiting of Cloaked 

Magn. Sir, in Goodhope I am to amend. 

Red. Use not then your countenance for to counterfeit. 
Sad Cir. And from crafters and hafters I you forfend. 

Stage 5. Scene 35 # 

Here Perseverance comes in 

Magn. Well, sir, after your councel my mind I will set. 
Red. What, brother Perseverance! surely well met. 

Sad Cir. Ye come hither as well as can be thought. 

Per . I heard say that Adversity with Magni ficence had fought. 

Magn. Yea, sir, with Adversity I have been vex£d. 

But Goodhope and Redress hath mended mine estate, 
And Sad Circumspection to me they have annexed. 

Red. What this man hath said, perceive ye his sentence? * 
Magn. Yea, sir, from him my courage shall never flit. 

Sad Cir. According to truth they be well devised. • 

1 Some considerable corruption here. # 



Magn. Sirs, I am agreed to abide your ordinance, 

Faithful assurance with good peradvertance. 

Per . If you be so minded, we be right glad. 

Red . And ye shall have more worship than ever ye had. 

Magn . Well, I perceive in you there is much sadness, 
Gravity of counsel, providence, and wit; 

Your comfortable advice and wit exceedeth all gladness. 

But friendly I will refrain you further ere we flit. 

Whereto were most meetly my corage to knit: 

Y our minds I beseech you herein to express, 

Commencing this process at Maister Redress. 

Red . Sith unto me foremost this process is erected, 

Herein I will aforce me to shew you my mind. 

First, from your magnificence, sin must be abjected, 

In all your works more grace shall ye find; 

Be gentle then of corage and learn to be kind. 

For of nobleness the chief point is to be liberal. 

So that your largesse be not too prodigal. 

Sad Cir. Liberty to a lord belongeth of right, 

But wilful waywardness must walk out of the way; 
Measure' of your lusts must have the oversight, 

And not all the niggard nor the chinchard to play; 

Let never niggardship your nobless affray; 

In your rewards use such moderation 
That nothing be given without consideration. 

Per . To the increase of your honour then arm you with 


And fumously 1 address you with magnanimity; 

And ever let the drede of God be in your sight; 

And know yourself mortal, for all your dignity; 

. 2 

Set not all your affiance in Fortune full of guile; 

Remember this life lasteth but a while. 

1 ardently. 

2 Line missing. 



Magn. Redress, in my remembrance your lesson shall rest, 
And Sad Circumspection I mark in my mind: 

But, Perseverance, meseemeth your problem was best; 

I shall it never forget, nor leave it behind, 

But wholly to Perseverance myself I will bind, 

Of that I have misdone to make a redress. 

And with Sad Circumspection correct my wantonness. 

Red. Unto this process briefly compiled, 

* Comprehending the world casual and transitory, 

Who list to consider shall never be beguiled, 

If it be registered well in memory; 

A plain example of worldy vain-glory, 

How in this world there is no sickerness, 1 
But fallible flattery enmixed with bitterness. 

Sad Cir . A mirror encircled is this interlude, 

This life inconstant for to behold and see; 

Suddenly advanced, and suddenly subdued, 

Suddenly riches, and suddenly poverty, 

Suddenly comfort, and suddenly adversity; 

Suddenly thus Fortune can both smile and frown, 

Suddenly set up, and suddenly cast down. 


Suddenly promoted, and suddenly put back. 

Suddenly cherished, and suddenly cast aside, 

Suddenly commended, and suddenly find a lack, 

Suddenly granted, and suddenly denied, 

Suddenly hid, and suddenly espied; 

Suddenly thus Fortune can both smile and frown, 

Suddenly set up, and suddenly cast down. 

Per. This treatise, devised to make your disport, 

Sheweth nowadays how the world cumbered is, 

To the pith of the matter who list to resort; 

To-day it is well, to-morrow it is all amiss, 

To-day in delight, to-morrow bare of bliss, • 




To-day a lord, to-morrow lie in the dust: 

Thus in the world there is no earthly trust. 

To-day fair weather, to-morrow a stormy rage, 

To-day hot, to-morrow outrageous cold, 

To-day a yeoman, to-morrow made a page, 

To-day in surety, to-morrow bought and sold, 

To-day master fist, to-morrow he hath no hold, 

To-day a man, to-morrow he lieth in the dust: 

Thus in this world there is no earthly trust. 

Magn. This matter we have moved, you mirthful to make, 
Pressly purposed under pretence of play, 

Sheweth wisdom to them that wisdom can take, 

How suddenly worldly wealth doth decay, 

How wisdom through wantonness vanishes away, 

How none estate living of himself can be sure, 

For the wealth of this world cannot endure; 

Of the terrest richery 1 we fall in the flood, 

Beaten with storms of many a froward blast, 

Ensorbed with the waves savage and wood , 2 
Without our ship be sure, it is likely to brast, 

Yet of magnificence oft made is the mast; 

Thus none estate living of him can be sure, 

For the wealth of this world cannot endure. 

Red . Now seemeth us fitting that ye then resort 
Home to your palace with joy and royalty. 

Sad Cir . Where everything is ordained after your noble 

Per . There to endure with all felicity. 

Magn . I am content, my friends, that it so be. 

Red . And ye that have heard this disport and game, 

Jesus preserve you from endless woe and shame! 

# Amen « 

terrestrial riches? 

2 wild. 


Why wear ye Calliope embroidered with letters of gold? 

Skelton Laureate, Orato. Reg. y Maketh this Answer 


As ye may see. 

Regent is she 
Of poets all. 

Which she gave to me 
The high degree 
Laureate to be 
Of fame royall; 

Whose name enroll’d 
With silk and gold 
I dare be bold 

Thus for to wear. 

Ofther I hold 
And her household; 

Though I wax old 
And somedele sere, 

Yet is she fain, 

Void of disdain, 

Me to retain 
Her serviture. 

With her certain 
I will remain, 

As my sovereign 
Most of pleasure, 

Maulgre touz malheureux. 


The Book compiled by Maister John Skelton , , Poet Laureate , 
called “ Speak , Parrot ” 

My name is Parrot, a bird of Paradise, 

* By nature devised of a wondrous kind, 

Daintily dieted with divers delicate spice 

Till Euphrates, that flood, driveth me into Ind, 

Where men of that countrie by fortune me find 
And send me to greate ladyes of estate: 

Then Parrot must have an almond or a date. 

A cage curiously carven, with a silver pin, 

Properly 1 painted, to be my coverture; 

A mirror of glass, that I may toot 2 therein: 

These, maidens full meekly with many a divers flower. 
Freshly they dress, and make sweet my bower, 

With “Speak, Parrot, I pray you.” Full curtesly they say, 
“Parrot is a goodly bird, a pretty popinjay!” 

With my beake bent, my little wanton eye, 

My feathers fresh as is the emerald green, 

About my neck a circulet like the rich rubie, 

My little legs, my feet both feat 3 and clean, 

I am a minion to wait upon a queen: 

“My proper Parrot, my little pretty fool!” 

With ladies I learn, and go with them to school. 

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Parrot, ye can laugh prettily!” 

Parrot hath not dined all this long day. 

Like your puss-cat, Parrot can mew and cry ! 

In Latin, in Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldie, 

In Greeke tongue Parrot can both speak and say 

1 Handsomely. 2 P ee P* 3 neat. 



(As Persius, that poet, doth report of me, 

“Quis expedivit psittaco suum chair e?” l ) 

Douce French of Paris Parrot can learn, 

Pronouncing my purpose after my propertie, 

With “ Parlez bien , Parrot, ou parlez rien /” 

With Dutch, with Spanish, my tongue can agree. 

In English to God Parrot can supplie 2 : 

“Christ save King Henry the Eighth, our royal king, 

The red rose in honour to flourish and spring! 

With Katherine incomparable, our royal queen also, 

That peerless pomegranate, Christ save her noble grace !” 
Parrot saves hablar Castiliano,* 

With fidarsi di se stesso 4 in Turkey and in Thrace; 

Vis consilii expers , as teach eth me Horace, 

Mole ruit sua^ 5 whose dictates are pregnant, 

Soventez foys, Parrot, en souenaunte . 

My lady mistress, Dame Philology, 

Gave me a gift, in my nest when I lay, 

To learn all language, and it to speak aptly 
r Now pandez mory , wax frantic, some men say, 

Phroneses for F reneses may not hold her way. 

An almond now for Parrot, delicately drest: 

In Salve festa dies , toto there doth best . 6 

Moderata juvant , 7 but toto doth exceed: 

Discretion is mother of noble virtues all. 

x Who taught Parrot to say “Hallo!”? Dyce notes: “The Latin 
portions of the MS. are generally of ludicrous incorrectness, the 
transcriber evidently not having understood the language.” I have 
done what I could with them. 

2 pray. 3 can speak Castilian. 4 trust in yourself. 

* Strength without wisdom falls by its own weight. 

Terha'ps this means, “When making holiday it is best to go the 
whole hog.” But, in the ordinary way, it is as the next line infers. 
7 Moderation delights us. 


Myden agan 1 in Greeke tongue we read. 

But reason and wit wanteth their provincial! 

When wilfulness is vicar generall. 

Haec res acu tangitur , 2 Parrot, par moifoy; 

Ticez vous , Parrot, tenez vous coy! 

Busy, busy, busy, and business again! 

Que pensez vous, Parrot? what meaneth this business? 
m Fitulus 3 in Horeb troubled Aaron’s brain, 

Melchizadek merciful made Moloch merciless: 

Too wise is no virtue, too meddling, too restless. 

In measure is treasure, cum sensu maturato , 4 
Ne tropo sanno , ne tropo mato . 5 

Aram was fired with Chaldee’s fire called Ur, 

Jobab® was brought up in the land of Hus, 

The lineage of Lot took support of Assur, 

Jereboseth is Hebrew, who list the cause discuss- 
“Peace, Parrot, ye prate as ye were ebrius 7 : 

Hist thee, lieber Got von Himmelsreich , ich seg 8 ! 

In Popering grew pears when Parrot was an egg.” 

What is this to purpose? “Over in a whinny Meg!” 9 # 

Hop Lobin of Lowdeon 10 would hae a bit a’ bread 3 
The jibbet of Baldock was made for Jack Leg 11 ; 

An arrow unfeathered and without an head, 

A bagpipe without blowing standeth in no stead: 

Some run too far before, some run too far behind, 

Some be too churlish, and some be too kind. 

d.e. Mydfr dy av - Nothing in excess. 

2 i.e. This hits the nail on the head properly. 

3 The calf. 4 with a mature perception. 

5 Not too sane, and not too mad. ®Job. 

7 drunk. 8 i.e. sage - dear God of Heaven’s kingdom, I say! 
d The beginning of a ballad. 10 Lothian. 

1 Trofessor Berdan, of Yale University, suggests that th& refers to 
John Lincoln, who was hanged in 1517 after the E-yl May-day 
riot. (See Modem Language Notes of America, vol. xxx., 1915.) 


Ich dien serveth for the ostrich feather, 

Ich dien is the language of the land of Berne 1 ; 

In Afric tongue byrsa is a thong of leather; 

In Palestina there is Jerusaleme. 

Colostrum 2 now for Parrot, white bread and sweet cream! 
Our Thomasen she doth trip, our jennet she doth shail 3 : 
Parrot hath a black beard and a fair green tail. 

“Morish mine own shelf!” the costermonger saith, 
cc Fate y fate, fate!” 4 ye Irish waterlag; 

In flattering fables men find but little faith, 

But moveatur terra, , let the world wag; 

Let Sir Wrig-wrag wrestle with Sir Dalyrag; 

Every man after his manner of ways, 

Paubyn ei arver y so the Welchman says. 

Such shreds of sentence, strewed in the shop 
Of ancient Aristippus and such other mo, 

I gather together and close in my crop, 

Of my wanton conceit, unde depromo 
Dilemmata docta in paedagogio 
Sacro vatem y & whereof to you I break — 

I pray you, let Parrot have liberty to speak! 

But “Ware the cat, Parrot, ware the false cat!” 

With “Who is there - a maid? Nay, nay, I trow!” 

“Ware riot. Parrot! Ware riot, ware that!” 6 
“Meat, meat for Parrot, meat I say, ho!” 

Thus diverse of language by learning I grow, 

With “Buss me, 7 sweet Parrot, buss me, sweet sweet!” 

To dwell among ladyes Parrot is meet. 

Bohemia. 2 milk biestings. 3 stumble. 

4 Water, water, water! 

5 whence I produce dilemmas taught to the poet in a sacred 
school (?). m 

6 Refers to Evil May-day riot (r). • 

7 Kiss me. 


“Parrot, Parrot, Parrot, pretty popinjay !” 

With my beak I can pick my little pretty toe; 

My delight is solace, pleasure, disport, and play: 

Like a wanton, when I will, I reel to and fro. 

Parrot can say Ctzsar, ave! also. 

But Parrot hath no favour to Esebone r : 

Above all other birds, set Parrot alone. 

* Ulula , Esebon, for Jeromy doth weep! 

Zion is in sadness, Rachel ruly 2 doth look; 

Madionita Jethro, our Moses keepeth his sheep; 

Gideon is gone, that Zalmane undertook, 

Horeb et Zeb, of Judicum 3 read the book : 

Now Gebell, Amon, and Amaloch - “Hark, hark! 

Parrot pretendeth to be a Bible clerk !” 

O Esebon, Esebon! to thee is come again 
Sihon, the regent Amorraeorum, , 4 
And Og, that fat hog of Bashan, doth retain 
The crafty coistronus Gananaeorum 6 ; 

And asylum , 6 whilom refugium mlserorum , 7 
Nonfanum , sed profanum. , 8 standeth in little stead: 

Ulula , Esebon, for Jephthah is stark dead! • 

Esebon, Maribon, Weston next Barnet; 

A trim tram 9 for an horse-mill it were a nice thing; 

x i.e. Heshbon, capital of Sihon, King of the Amorites- London (?). 

2 ruefully. 3 Book of Judges. 

4 of the Amorites - Henry VIII (?). Josephus (4 Ant. v. 3) 
represents Og as Sihon’s friend and ally. 

5 Canaanitish scullion. This must refer to Wolsey and Veysey, 
who were chiefly instrumental, with the King, in abolishing the 
right of sanctuary for those clergy guilty of capital crimes. This 
was regarded by the Church party (i.e. Skelton’s party) as a 
betrayal of the Church. (Cf. Berdan, op. cit.) « 

6 sanctuary. 7 once 

8 Not sacred, but profane. 


Daintie for damoiselles, chaffer far fet 1 : 

Bo~ho doth bark well, but Hough-ho he ruleth the ring 
From Scarpary to Tartary renown therein doth spring, 
With “He said, and we said,” ich wot now what ich wot 2 - 
Quod magnus est dominus Judas Scariot. 3 

Ptolemy and Haly were cunning and wise 

In the volvell, 4 in the quadrant, and in the astroloby, 

To prognosticate truly the chance of Fortune’s dice; 

Some treat of their tirykis, some of astrology, 

Som e pseudo-propheta with chiromancy: 

If Fortune be friendly, and grace be the guide, 

Honour with renown will run on that side. 

Monon calon agaton , * 

Quod Parrato 
In Graeco . 

Let Parrot, I pray you, have liberty to prate, 

For aurea lingua Graeca 0 ought to be magnified, 

If it were conn’d perfitely, and after the rate. 

As lingua Latina , 7 in school matter occupied. 

But our Greekes their Greek so well have applied 
That they cannot say in Greek, riding by the way, 

“Ho, hostler, fetch my horse a bottle of hay!” 

Neither frame a syllogism in phrisesomorum , 8 
Formaliter et Graece, cum medio termino •; 

Our Greekes wallow in the wash-bowl Jrgolicorum™ ; 

For though they can tell in Greek what is phormio> 11 
Yet they seek out their Greek in Capricornio\ 

tfar-fetched merchandise. 2 1 know now what I know. 

3 But mighty is lord Judas Iscariot (probably Wolsey). 

4 a kind of astronomical clock. 

5 i.e. M<W m \bv dya$6v - the only beauty and goodness. 

6 the golden Greek tongue. 7 the Latin tongue. 

8 in Fresison (?). 

formally and in Greek, with the middle term. 

10 of the Greeks. lx a straw-mat. 


For ye scrape out good scripture, and set in a gall, 

Ye go about to amend, and ye mar all 1 

Some argue secundum quid ad $i?np licit er^ 

And yet he would be reckon’d pro Areopagita 2 *, 

And some make distinctions multiplicita , 

Whether it a were non , or non before ita , 3 
Neither wise nor well-learned, but like hermaphrodita 4 : 
Set sophia 5 aside, for every Jack Raker 
And every mad meddler must now be a maker. 

In Academia Parrot dare no problem keep, 

For Graece fari 7 so occupieth the chair 
That Latinumfari may fall to rest and sleep, 

And syllogisari 8 was drowned at Sturbridge Fair; 

Trivials and quatrivials 9 so sore now they impair 10 
That Parrot the popinjay hath pity to behold 
How the rest of good learning is rolled up and trold. 

Albertus de mo do significandi , 1 1 

And Donatus 18 be driven out of school; 

Prisian’s head broken now handy dandy, 

And Inter didascolos 13 is reckoned for a fool; 

Alexander, 1 4 a gander of Maeander’s pool. 

With De Conciles 15 is cast out of the gate, 

And De Rationales 1 6 dare not shew his pate. 

Plautus in his comedies a child shall now rehearse, 

And meddle with Quintilian in his Declamations, 

*A reference to Erasmus’ New Testament (?). 

2 as one of the senators or judges. 3 i.e. quibbling distinctions. 
4 1 suppose - neither one thing nor the other. 5 wisdom. 

6 composer. 7 to speak Greek. 8 ability to reason, to syllogise. 
°The two school-courses, elementary and advanced. (See p. 353, 

10 are impaired. 

11 Albertus’ Margarita Poetic a, a classical anthology (<472). 

12 A Latin grammar by JSlius Donatus. 13 Another grammar (?). 
14 A mediaeval grammarian. 15 The Canon law (?)? 14 i.e. Logic. 


That Petty Catom can scantly construe a verse, 

With Aveio in Graeco , 2 and such solemn salutations, 

Can scantly the tenses of his conjugations: 

Setting their minds so much on eloquence 

That of their school matters lost is the whole sentence. 3 

Now a nutmeg, a nutmeg, cum garyophyllo , 

For Parrot to pick upon, his brain for to stable, 

Sweet cinnamon-stickes and pleris cum musco ! r 

In Paradise, that place of pleasure perdurable, 4 
The progeny of Parrots were fair and favourable; 

Now in valle Hebron Parrot is fain to feed: 

Christ-Cross and Saint Nicholas, Parrot, be your good 
speed ! 

The mirror that I toot in, quasi diaphanum , 5 
V el quasi speculum , in aenigmate, 6 
Elencticum y or else enthymematicum y 7 

For logicians to look on, somewhat sophistice s ! 
Rhetoricians and orators in fresh humanitie, 9 
Support Parrot, I pray you, with your suffrage ornate, 

Of confuse tantum 1 0 avoiding the check-mate. 

But of this supposition that called is art, 

Confuse distributive , 1 1 as Parrot hath devised, 

Let every man after his merit take his part, 

For in this process 12 Parrot nothing hath surmised. 

No matter pretended, nor nothing enterprised, 

But that metaphor a, allegoria with all, 

Shall be his protection, his paves, 1 3 and his wall. 

x Cato Parvus (a sort of supplement to Cato Magnus, i.e. Dionysii 
Catonis Disticha de Moribus) was written by Daniel Church, or 
Ecclesiensis, a domestic in the court of Henry II. 

2 Good-morning in Greek. 3 meaning. 4 ever lasting. 

5 as though transparent. c Or like a looking-glass in a riddle. 
7 An elenchus [in logic] ... an enthymeme. 

8 wisely. 9 elegant literature. 10 so much confusion, 

“i.e. methodical confusion. “discourse. “shield. 


For Parrot is no churlish chough, nor no flecked pie. 
Parrot is no pendugum, 1 that men call a carling, 

Parrot is no woodcock, nor no butterfly, 

Parrot is no stammering stare, that men call a starling; 
But Parrot is my own dear heart and my dear darling. 
Melpomene, that fair maid, she burnished his beak: 

I pray you, let Parrot have liberty to speak. 

Parrot is a fair bird for a lady: 

God of his goodness him framed and wrought; 

When Parrot is dead, he doth not putrify. 

Yet, all things mortal shall turn unto nought, 

Except man’s soul, that Christ so deare bought: 

That never may die, nor never die shall - 
Make much of Parrot, the popinjay royal. 

For that peerless Prince that Parrot did create, 

He made you of nothing by his majestie. 

Point well this problem that Parrot doth prate, 

And remember among how Parrot and ye 
Shall leap from this life, as merry as we be: 

Pomp, pride, honour, riches, and worldly lust, 

Parrot saith plainly, shall turn all to dust. 

Thus Parrot doth pray you. 

With heart most tender, 

To reckon with this recule 2 now, 

And it to remember. 

Psittacus , ecce> cano ; nec sunt mea carmina Phcebo 
Dtgna scio; tamen est plena camena deo . 3 

Secundum Skeltonida famigeratum, 

In Piereorum catalogo numeratum . 4 

penguin. 2 writing. 

3 Parrot, lo, I sing; I know my songs are not worthy of Phoebus; 
yet the inspiration is full of the god. * 

4 Next to the famed Skelton, 

Counted in the book of the Muses. 


Itaque consolctmini invicem in verbis istis, etc . 1 
Candidi lector es, callide , callete: v e strum fovete Psittacum, etc . 


Speak, Parrot, I pray you, for Mary’s sake, 

What moan he made when Pamphilus lost his make. 3 


My proper Bess, 

My pretty Bess, 

Turn once again to me! 

For sleepest thou, Bess, 

Or wakest thou, Bess, 

Mine heart it is with thee. 

My daisy delectable, 

My primrose commendable, 

My violet amiable, 

My joy inexplicable, 

Now turn again to me. 

I will be firm and stable, 

And to your serviceable, 

And also profitable, 

If ye be agreeable 
To turn again to me, 

My proper Bess. 

Alas, I am disdained, 

And as a man half maimed, 

My heart is so sore pained! 

I pray thee, Bess, unfeigned, 

Yet come again to me! 

^‘Wher^fore comfort one another with these words” (i Thess. 
iv. 1 8). ' 

2 Fair readers, be shrewdly wise: cherish your Parrot. 3 mate. 


By love I am constrained 
To be with you retained, 

It will not be refrained : 

I pray you, be reclaimed, 

And turn again to me. 

My proper Bess. 

Quoth Parrot, the popinjay royal 

Martialis cecinit carmen, fit mihi scutum : - 
Est mihi lasciva p agin a, vita proba . 1 


Now kus 2 me, Parrot, kus me, kus, kus, kus! 

God’s blessing light on thy sweet little mus 3 ! 

Vita et anima , 

Z oe kai psyche. 4 

Concumbent Graece. Non est hie sermo pudicus . 5 

Attica dictamina 
Sunt plumbi lamina ,« 

Vel spuria vitulamina: 

Avert at haec Urania ! 

Amen, Amen, 

And set too a D, 

And then it is Amend 
Our new found A.B.C 

Cum caeteris paribus. 7 

Partial sang a song,* made a shield for me; 

I have a sportive page, an honest life. 

2 kiss, 3 beak. 

4 Life and soul, ’ ■ 

Life and soul ( Z /cal pvxti)' 

6 They lie together in Greek. This is not obscene talk. 

6 Attic sayings [?] are a sheet of lead [or, a shield]. * 

7 Other things being equal. * 




Go, little quaire, 1 named the Popinjay, 

Home to resort Jeroboseth persuade; 

For the cliffs of Scalop they roar wellaway, 

And the sands of Cefas begin to waste and fade, 

For replication restless that he of late there made: 

Now, Neptune and iEolus are agreed of likelihode, 

For Titus at Dover abideth in the rode; 

Lucina she wadeth among the watery floodes, 

And the cocks begin to crow against the day; 

Le toison de Jason 2 is lodged among the shrowdes, 

Of Argus revenged, recover when he may; 

Lycaon 3 of Libyk and Lydy hath caught his pray 4 : 

Go, little quaire, pray them that you behold 

In their remembrance ye may be enrolled. 

Yet some fools say that ye are furnished with knacks, 5 
That hang together as feathers in the wind; 

But lewdly are they lettered that your learning lacks, 
Barking and whining, like churlish curs of kind 6 : 

o For who looketh wisely in your works may find 

Much fruitful matter. But now, for your defence 

Against all remords, 7 arm you with patience. 


2 Jason’s golden fleece. A reference, perhaps, to the 400,000 
crowns with which the French Commissioners came to purchase 
Tournai, captured in 1513. (See Berdan.) 

3 Who, for his impiety to Jupiter, was changed into a wolf. 
This probably refers to Wolsey. See later “His wolf’s head, wan, 
blue as lead, gapeth over the crown.” 

The bishopric of Tournai (?) 

5 toys. °i.e. by nature. 

7 blamings. 


27 1 


Ipse sagax aequi ceu verax nuntius ito . 1 
Morda puros mal desires . 2 3 Portugues . 
Penultimo die Octobris> 33 0 3 


Pass forth, Parrot, towards some passenger, 

Require him to convey you over the salt foam; 

Addressing yourself, like a sad messenger, 

To our sullen seignor Sadok, 4 desire him to come home. 
Making his pilgrimage by no sir e dame de Cromei 
For Jerico and Jerssey shall meet together as soon 
As he to exploit the man out of the moon. 5 6 

With porpoise and grampus he may feed him fat, 

Though he pamper not his paunch with the great seal: 

1 Himself wise in justice let him go like a true messenger. 

2 Dyce translates: “To bite the pure is an evil desire.” 

3 Professor Berdan conjectures that these figures stand for x 51J - 
i.e. dating from the accession of Henry VII, a habit that Skelton 
might have contracted as an old court-servant, again employed 
here to protect himself. As Dyce remarks, it is obvious that they 
could not refer to the year 1533, as by that time both Skelton 
and Wolsey were dead. Moreover, a few pages before, in the 
Harleian MS. 2252, from which these portions of Speak , Parrot 
are printed, there occurs the name “John Colyn, mercer, of 
London, 1517.” 

4 Wolsey (?). Berdan conjectures - Charles Somerset, Earl of 
Worcester, who headed the embassy to the French court in 
November, 15x8. (See date below.) If this is so, then do Jerico 
and Jerssey, in the next line but one, refer to Paris and London? 
Zadok was one of the chief priests of Israel, but Sadoke (tenth 

book of Morie D 'Arthur) was friend to young Alisand*r, as Som- 
erset to Henry. 

6 i.e. as soon as he can drive the man out of the mooJL 


We have longed and looked long time for that, 

Which causeth poor suitors have many a hungry meal: 
As president and regent he ruleth every deal. 1 
Now pass forth, good Parrot, our Lord be your steed, 

In this your journey to prosper and speed! 

And though some disdain you, and say how ye prate, 

*And how your poems are barren of polished eloquence, 
There is none that your name will abrogate 

Than nodipolls 2 and gramatolls of small intelligence; 

Too rude is their reason to reach to your sentence 3 : 

Such melancholy mastiffs and mangy cur dogs 
Are meet for a swineherd to hunt after hogs. 


Psittace perge volans , fatuorum tela retundas . 4 
Morda puros mall desires. Portugues . 

In die bus Novembris, 

34* 5 


Prepare you, Parrot, bravely your passage to take, 

Of Mercury under the trinall aspect, 

And sadly salute our sullen sire Sydrake, 7 

And shew him that all the world doth conject , 

How the matters he mells in come to small effect; 

For he wanteth of his wits that all would rule alone: 

It is no little burden to bear a great mill-stone. 

1 This surely refers to Wolsey. And yet Wolsey had the Great 
Seal in 1515! 

2 blockheads. 3 meaning. 

4 Parrot, go flying, turn back the shafts of fatuity. 6 1 5 1 8 (?) . 

6 From here on, at any rate, the personal satire is certainly 

directed against Wolsey. 

7 i.e. Wolsey. (Cf. The Historie of King Boccus and Sy dr ache , 

1510.) • 


To bring all the sea into a cherrystone pit, 

To number all the stars in the firmament. 

To rule ix. realms by one man’s wit, 

To such things impossible reason cannot consent: 

Much money, men say, there madly he hath spent - 
Parrot, ye may prate this under protestation, 

Was never such a senator since Christ’s incarnation! 

Wherefore he may now come again as he went, 

* Non sine postica sanna , 1 as I trow, 

From Calais to Dover, to Canterbury in Kent, 

To make reckoning in the resseyte how Robin lost his bow, 
To sow corn in the sea-sand, there will no croppe grow. 
Though ye be taunted, Parrot, with tongues attainted, 

Yet your problems are pregnant, and with loyalty acquainted, 


/, Properans Par rote, malas sic corripe lingua s. 

Morda puros mall desires . Portigues. 

15 Kalendis Decembris , 

34 . 


Altior , heu , cedro, crudelior , heu, leopardol 
Heu, vitulus bubali fit dominus Priami ! 2 


Unde species Priami est digna imperio . 3 

Non >annis licet et Priamus sed honor e voceris ; 

Dum foveas vitulum, rex, regeris, Britonum ; 

*i.e. Not without a grimace behind his back. 

2 Higher, alas, than the cedar, more cruel, alas, than {he leopard! 
Alas, the calf of the ox becomes the lord of Priam! 

3 Whence the race of Priam is worthy of dominion. 11 



Rex, regeris , non ipse regis: res inclyte, calle; 
Subde tibi vitulum , ne fatuet ntmium. x 

God amend all, 

That all amend may! 

Amen, quoth Parrot, 

The royal popinjay. 

Kalendris Decembris, 


Go, proper Parrot, my popinjay, 

That lords and ladies this pamphlet may behold, 

With notable clerks: supplie 2 to them, I pray, 

Your rudeness to pardon, and also that they wold 
Vouchsafe to defend you against the brawling scold 
Called Detraction, encankered with envy, 

Whose tongue is attainted with slanderous obloquy. 

For truth in parable ye wantonly pronounce, 

Languages divers, yet under that doth rest 
^Matter more precious than the rich jacounce , 3 
Diamond, or ruby, or balas 4 of the best. 

Or Indy sapphire with orient pearles drest: 

Therefore your remorders are mad, or else stark blind, 
You to remord erst ere they know your mind. 


/, volitans, Par rote, tuam moderare Minervam: 

Fix tua percipient , qui tua teque legent . 5 

K . . While you cherish the calf, king of Britain, you are ruled: king, 
you are ruled, you do not yourself rule: illustrious king, be wise, 
Subdue thou the calf, lest he become too foolish. 

2 supplicate. 3 jacinth. 4 Another kind of ruby. 

5 Go, flying Parrot, moderate your wit: 

Scarce will they understand you who read you and your writings. 




Psittacus hi notus seu Persius est puto notus y 
Nec reor est nec erit licet est erii . 1 

Maledite soyte bouche malheurewsel 

34 - 


O my Parrot, 0 unice dilecte y votorum meorum omnis lapis , 
lapis pretiosus operimentum tuum! 2 


Sicut Aaron populumque y sic bubali vitulus , sic bubali vitulus y 
sic bubali vitulus . 3 

Thus much Parrot hath openly expressed: 

Let see who dare make up the rest. 

Le Popinjay sen va complayndre: 

Helas! I lament the dull abused brain, 

The infatuate fantasies, the witless wilfulness 
Of one and other at me that have disdain: 

Some say they cannot my parables express, 

Some say I rail at riot reckless, 

Some say but little, and think more in their thought, 

How this process I prate of it is all for nought* 

O causeless cowardice, O heartless hardiness! 

0 manless manhood, enfainted all with fear! 

1 Quite unintelligible. 

2 0 only loved-one, the whole jewel of my prayers, # a precious 
stone is thy covering. (Cf. Ezek. xxviii. 13.) 

3 As Aaron and the people, so the calf of the ox, etc.* 


O conning clergy, where is your readiness 

To practise or postil this process 1 here and there? 

For dread ye dare no meddle with such gere. 

Or else ye pinch courtesy, truly as I trow, 

Which of you first dare boldly pluck the crow. 

The sky is cloudy, the coast is nothing clear; 

Titan hath trust up his tresses of fine gold; 

Jupiter for Saturn dare make no royal cheer; 

Lycaon laugh eth thereat, and beareth him more bold;/ 
Rachel, ruely ragged, she is like to catch cold; 

Moloch, that mawmet, 2 there dare no man withstay - 
The rest of such reckoning may make a foul fray. 

Dixit, quod Parrot, the royal popinjay. 

Cest chose malheureuse, 

Que mal houche. 


Jupiter ut nitido deus est verier atus Olympo, 

Hie colit ur que deus . 

' Sunt data thura Jovi 3 rutilo solio residenti; 

Cum Jove thura capit. 

Jupiter astrorum rector dominusque polorum , 

Anglic a sceptra regit . 3 


I compass the conveyance unto the capitall 

Of our clerk Cleros, whither, thither, and why not 
hither? * 

Annotate this matter. 2 i.e. Mahomet, or puppet* 

3 As Jove is venerated in shining Olympus, he is worshipped 
here as a* god. Incense is given to Jove, sitting on his ruddy 
throne; with Jove he takes the incense. Jove, ruler of the stars 
and lord of tHe poles, rules the English kingdom. 


For pass a pace apace 1 is gone to catch a moll, 

Over Scarpary mala vi^ Monsire cry and slither: 

What sequel shall follow when penguins meet togither? 
Speak, Parrot, my sweet bird, and ye shall have a date, 

Of franticness and foolishness which is the great state? 


Difficult it is to answer this demand: 

Yet, after the sagacity of a popinjay, - 
Franticness doth rule and all thing command; 

Wilfulness and brainless now rule all the ray 2 ; 

Against frantic frenzy there dare no man say nay, 

For franticness and wilfulness, and brainless ensemble, 

The neb of a lion they make to trete 3 and tremble; 

To jumble, to stumble, to tumble down like fools. 

To lour, to droop, to kneel, to stoop, and to play couch 

To fish afore the net and to draw pools; 

He maketh them to bear baubles, and to bear a low sail; 

He carrieth a king in his sleeve, if all the world fail; 

He faceth out at a flush 4 with “Shew, take all!” •» 
Of Pope Julius’ cards he is chief cardinal. 

He triumpeth, he trumpeth, he turneth all up and down, 
With “Skirgalliard, 5 proud palliard, 6 vauntperler, 7 ye 

His wolf’s head, wan, blue as lead, gapeth over the crown: 

It is to fear lest he would wear the garland on his pate, 
Paregal with all princes far passing his estate: 

For of our regent the regiment he hath, ex qua vi, 

Patet per versus , quod ex vi botte harvi . 8 

An allusion to Secretary Pace (?). 2 array. 3 become tractable. 
4 He vaunts it with a hand of cards all of one suit. ^ 

6 lecher. 6 whoremonger. 

7 One that is too forward to speak. 8 Unintelligible. 


Now, Galathea, let Parrot, I pray you, have his date; 

Ye dates now are dainty, and wax very scant, 

For grocers were gruged at and groined at 1 but late; 
Great raisins with reasons be now reprobitant, 

For raisins are no reasons, but reasons currant: 

Run God, run Devil! yet the date of our Lord 
And the date of the Devil doth shrewdlie accord. 

Dixit, quod Parrot, the popinjay royal. 


Now, Parrot, my sweet bird, speak out yet once again, 
Set aside all sophims, and speak now true and plain. 


So many moral matters, and so little used; 

So much new making, 2 and so mad time spent; 

So much translation into English confused; 

So much noble preaching, and so little amendment; 

So much consultation, almost to none intent; 

So much provision, and so little wit at need - 
Since Deucalion’s flood there can no clerkes read. 

So little discretion, and so much reasoning; 

So much hardy dardy, and so little manliness; 

So prodigal expence, and so shameful reckoning; 

So gorgeous garments, and so much wretchedness; 

So much portly pride, with purses penniless; 

So much spent before, and so much unpaid behind - 
Since Deucalion’s flood there can no clerkes find. 

So much forcasting, and so far an after deal; 

So much politic prating, and so little standeth in stead 

^grumbled at. 2 new composing. 


So little secretness, and so much great councel; 

So many bold barons, their hearts as dull as lead; 

So many noble bodies under a daw’s head; 

So royal a king as reigneth upon us all - 
Since Deucalion’s flood was never seen nor shall. 

So many complaints, and so small redress; 

So much calling on, and so small taking heed; 

So much loss of merchandise, and so remediless; 

So little care for the common weal, and so much need; 
So much doubtful danger, and so little drede; 

So much pride of prelates, so cruell and so keen — 

Since Deucalion’s flood, I trow, was never seen. 

So many thieves hanged, and thieves never the less; 

So much ’prisonment for matters not worth an haw; 

So much papers wering for right a small excess 1 ; 

So much pillory-pageants under colour of good law; 

So much turning on the cuck-stool 2 for every guy gaw; 
So much mockish making of statutes of array — 

Since Deucalion’s flood was never, I dare say. 

So brainless calves heads, so many sheepes tails; 

So bold a bragging butcher, 3 and flesh sold so dear; 

So many plucked partridges, and so fat quails; 

So mangy a mastiff cur, the great greyhound’s 4 peer; 

So big a bulk of brow-antlers cabbidged 6 that year; 

So many swans dead, and so small revell - 
• Since Deucalion’s flood, I trow, no man can tell. 

So many truces taken, and so little perfite truth; 

So much belly-joy, and so wasteful banqueting; 


a stool fixed at the end of a long pole, used for punishment of 
scolds and brawlers by plunging them into water. 

3 Wolsey was reported to be the son of a butcher. » 

4 Henry VIII, in allusion to the royal arms. 

5 cuckold’s horns growing on the head. ^ 



So pinching and sparing, and so little profit growth; 

So many hugy houses building, and so small householding; 
Such statutes upon diets, such pilling and polling; 

So is all thing wrought wilfully without reason and skill - 
Since Deucalion’s flood the world was % never so ill. 

So many vagabonds, so many beggars bold; 

So much decay of monasteries and of religious places; 

So hot hatred against the Church, and charity so cold; 

So much of “my Lord’s Grace, 1 ” and in him no graces; 

So many hollow hearts, and so double faces; 

So much sanctuary-breaking, and privileges barred - 
Since Deucalion’s flood was never seen nor learned. 

So much ragged right of a rammes horn 2 ; 

So rigorous ruling in a prelate specially; 

So bold and so bragging, and was so basely born; 

So lordly in his looks and so disdainfully; 

So fat a maggot, bred of a fleshe fly; 

Was never such filthy Gorgon, nor such an epicure, 

Since Deucalion’s flood, I make thee fast and sure. 

Sermuch privy watching in cold winters’ nights; 

So much searching of loselles, and is himself so lewd; 

So much conjurations for elfish mid-day sprites; 

So many bulles of pardon published and shewed; 

So much crossing and blessing, and him all beshrewd; 
Such pole-axes and pillars, 3 such mules trapt with gold - . 
Since Deucalion’s flood in no chronicle is told. 

Dixit, quod Parrot. 

*At this time “His Grace” was the royal style, so that it was a 
great piece of arrogance for Wolsey to adopt it. 

2 i.e. justice as crooked as a ram’s horn. 

3 A reference to the two silver pillars and four gilt pole-axes 
that Wolsey had carried before him in his train as he rode on his 
mule through the streets. (See Cavendish, Life of Wolsey .) 


Crescet in hnmensum me vivo Psittacus iste; 
Hinc mea dicetur Skeltonidis inclita fama . 1 


Quod Skelton Laureat, 

Orator Regius , 

34 * 

This Parrot will grow immensely in my lifetime; 

« Hence the glorious fame of me, Skelton, will be celebrated. 


Hereafter follow eth a little Book called Colin Clout , compiled by 
Master Skelton, Poet Laureate 

Quis concur get mecum adversus malignant es? Aut quis 
stabit mecum adversus oper antes iniquitatem? Nemo , Dominel 1 2 

What can it avail 
To drive forth a snail, 

Or to make a sail 
Of an herring’s tail? 

To rhyme or to rail, 

To write or to indite, 

Either for delight 
Or else for despight? 

Or books to compile 
Of divers manner style, 

Vice to revile 
And sin to exile? 

To teach or to preach, 

As reason will reach? 

Say this, and say that, 

His . head is so fat, 

He wotteth never what 
Nor whereof he speaketh; 

He crieth and he creaketh, 

He prieth and he peeketh, 

He chides and he chatters, 

He prates and he patters, 

1 A familiar name for the labourer of that day, either rural or 

2 “Whcfwill rise up with me against evil-doers? or who will stand 
up with me against the workers of iniquity? No one, O Lord!” 
(Ps. xciii. 1 6 , Vulgate). 




He clitters and he clatters, 

He meddles and he smatters. 

He gloses and he flatters; 

Or if he speak plain, 

Then he lacketh brain, 

He is but a fool; 

Let him go to school. 

On a three-footed stool 
That he may down sit, 

For he lacketh wit! 

And if that he hit 
The nail on the head, 

It standeth in no stead. 

The Devil, they say, is dead 
The Devil is dead! 

It may well so be, 

Or else they would see 
Otherwise, and flee 
From worldly vanitie, 

And foul covetousness, 

And other wretchedness, 

Fickle falseness, 


With unstableness. 

And if ye stand in doubt 
Who brought this rhyme about, 
My name is Colin Clout. 

I purpose to shake out 
All my conning bag , 1 
Like a clerkly hag . 2 
{For though my rhyme be ragged, 
^Tattered and jagged, 

'Rudely rain-beaten, 

•Rusty and moth-eaten, # 

1 store of knowledge. 2 old scholar (here). 


If ye take well therewith, 

It hath in it some pith, , 

For, as far as I can see, 
lit is wrong with each degree: 

For the temporalitie 
Accuseth the spiritualitie; 

The spiritual again 
Doth grudge and complain 
Upon the temporal men: 

Thus each of other blother 
The one against the other: 

Alas, they make me shudder ! 

For in hugger-mugger 
The Church is put in fault; 
iThe prelates be so haut, 

They say, and look so high, 

A.s though they would fly 
Above the starry sky. 

Lay men say indeed 
How they take no heed 
Their silly sheep to feed, 

But pluck away and pull 
The fleeces of their wool, - 
Unneth 1 they leave a lock 
Of wool among their flock! 

And as for their conning, 2 
A glomming and a mumming, 3 
And make thereof a jape 4 ! 

They gasp and they gape 
All to have promotion, - 
There is their whole devotion: 

With money, if it will hap, 

To catch the forked cap 5 : 

Forsooth they are too lewd 
* To say so, all beshrewed! 

1 Scarcely. learning. 3 i.e. it is all dumb show. 

4 joke. 5 i.e. the mitre. 


What trow ye they say more 
Of the bishops’ lore? 

How in matters they be raw, 

They lumber forth the law. 

To hearken Jack and Jill, 

When they put up a bill , 1 
And judge it as they will, 

For other men’s skill, 

Expounding out their clauses, 

And leave their own causes. 

In their provincial cure 
They make but little sure, 

And meddle very light 
In the Church’s right; 

But ire and venire y 
And sol-fa so a-la-mi-re. 

That the praemunire 
Is like to be set afire 
In their jurisdictions 
Through temporal afflictions. 

Men say they have prescriptions 
Against spiritual contradictions, 

* Accounting them as fictions! 

And while the heads do this. 

The remnant is amiss 
Of the clergy all. 

Both great and small. 

I wot never how they wark, 

But thus the people bark, 

And surely thus they say: 

Bishops, if they may, 

Small houses woulde keep, 

Not slumber forth and sleep , 2 

And essay to creep 

Within the noble walls # 

(here). 2 sleep away from their- residences. 


Of the king’s halls, 

To fat their bodies full, 

Their souls lean and dull, 

And have full little care 
How evil their sheep fare! 

The temporality say plain, 
How bishops disdain 
Sermons for to make, 

Or such labour to take. 

And, for to say troth, 

A great part is for sloth, 

But the greatest part 
Is they have little art 
And right slender conning 
Within their heads wonning. 1 
But this reason they take: 

How they are able to make 
With their gold and treasure 
Clerks out of measure, — 

And yet that is a pleasure ! 
Howbeit some there be 
(Almost two or three) 

Of that dignitie, 

Full worshipful clerks, 

As appeareth by their warks, 
Like Aaron and Ure, 2 
The wolf from the door 
To werrin 3 and to keep 
From their ghostly sheep, 

And their spiritual lambs 
Sequestered from rams 
And from the bearded goats 
With their hairy coats. 

Set nought by gold ne groats, - 
• Their names if I durst tell ! 


2 i.e. Urias. 

3 ward off. 



But they are loth to mell , 1 
And loth to hang the bell 
About the cat’s neck , 2 
For dread to have a check; 

They are fain to play deuz deck 8 ! 

They are made for the beck 4 ! 

Howbeit they are good men. 

Much hearted like a hen 5 ! 

Their lessons forgotten they have 
That Becket them gave: 

Thomas manum mittzt ad fortza, 

Spernit damna> spernit opprobria. 

Nulla Thomamfrangit injuria!* 

But now every spiritual father, 

Men say, they had rather 
Spend much of their share 
Than be ’cumbered with care. 

Spend ! nay, nay, but spare ! 

F or let see who that dare 
Shoe the mockish mare 7 ; 

They make her wince and kick, 

But it is not worth a leek: 

Boldness is to seek 8 

The Church for to defend. * 

Take me as I intend. 

For loth I am to offend 
In this that I have penn’d: 

I tell you as men say. 


2 i.e. loth to warn their congregations against the most corrupt 

3 A card-game. 4 nod of command. 5 i.e. chicken-hearted. 

6 . . . puts his hand to braver things. 

Spurns loss, spurns dishonour. 

No hurt daunts Thomas. 

7 Shoe-the-Mare was a Christmas game - a kind of glindman’s 
Buff. Here it seems to mean: Catch the chief offender. 

8 far to seek. * 



Amend when ye may, 

For, usque ad montem Sezr , 1 
Men say ye cannot appeire 2 ! 

For some say ye hunt in parks, 

And hawk on hobby larks , 3 
And other wanton warks. 

When the night darks. 

What hath lay men to do 
The gray goose for to shoe 4 ? 

Like hounds of hell, 

They cry and they yell, 

How that ye sell 
The grace of the Holy Ghost! 

Thus they make their boast 
Throughout every coast, 

How some of you do eat 
In Lenten season flesh meat, 

Pheasant, partridge, and cranes; 

Men call you, therefore, profanes ! 

Ye pick no shrimps nor praiies , 5 
Salt-fish, stock-fish, nor herring, 

It is not for your wearing 6 ; 

Nor in holy Lenten season 
Y e will neither beans ne peason , 7 
But ye look to be let loose 
To a pig or to a goose; 

Your gorge not endewed 8 
Without a capon stewed, 

Or a stewed cock, 

To know what is a’ clock 
Under her surfled 9 smock, 

And her wanton woodcock! 

l££ even as far as Mount Seir” (Joshua xv. io). 

2 be worse than ye are already. 

3 hawk larks with a hobby - i.e. a small hawk. 

4 i.e. meddle in everything - a proverbial expression. 

5 prawns. * 6 u$e. 7 peas. digested. 9 embroidered. 



And how when ye give orders 
In your provincial borders. 

As at Sziientesy 1 
Some are insufficient es y 2 
Some parum sapientes , 3 
Some nihil intelligent es > 4 
Some valde negligentes , 5 
Some nullum sensum hahentes , 8 
But bestial and untaught. 

But when they have once caught 
Dominus vohiscum by the head 7 
Then run they in every stead , 3 
God wot, with drunken noils 9 ! 

Y et take they cure of souls, 

And wotteth never what they read, 
Paternoster, Ave, nor Creed; 

Construe not worth a whistle 
Neither Gospel nor Epistle; 

Their matins madly said, 

Nothing devoutly prayed; 

Their learning is so small, 

Their primes and hours 10 fall 
And leap out of their lips 
Like sawdust or dry chips ! 

I speak not now of all, 

But the most part in general!. 

Of such vagabundus 11 
Speaketh totus mundus xt \ 

How some sing Laetabundus 

At every ale stake , 13 

With, 46 Welcome, hake and make 14 !” 

i.e. at mass - particularly on Passion Sunday. ineffectual. 
8 not sufficiently learned. 4 not even competent. 

11 utterly careless. 6 having no sense at all. 

’when they have once become priests. 8 place. * noddles. 

10 i.e. devotions and prayers. 11 vagabonds. # 

12 all the world. 13 ale~sign. 

14 idle loitering companions (here, “wanton lasses*). 



By the bread that God brake, 
I am sorry for your sake ! 

I speak not of the good wife, 
But of their apostles’ life 1 : 
Cum ipsis vel tills 
Qui manet In villis 
Est uxor vel ancllla 2 — 
Welcome Jack and Jilla! 

My pretty Petronilla, 

An you will be stilla, 

You shall have your willa! 
Of such Paternoster pekes 3 
All the world speaks. 

In you the fault is supposed, 

F or that they are not apposed * 

By just examination 
In conning and conversation; 

They have none instruction 
To make a true construction 
A priest without a letter, * 

Without his virtue be gretter, 

^ Doubtless were much better 

Upon him for to take 
A mattock or a rake. 

Alas, for very shame ! 

Some cannot decline their name, 

Some can scarcely read. 

And yet he will not dread 
For to keep a cure, 

And in nothing is sure ! 

This Dominus vohiscum y 
As wise as Tom a 5 thrum, 

^.e. of the lives of their (the priests’) followers. 

2 With those very fellows [i.e. prelates] who live in villas is a wife 
or a maid. 

clerical fellows. 4 questioned. 5 illiterate. 


29 1 

A chaplain of trust 
Layeth all in the dust! 

Thus I, Colin Clout, 

As I go about, 

And wand’ ring as I walk 
I hear the people talk. 

Men say, for silver and gold 
Mitres are bought and sold; 

There shall no clergy appose 1 
A mitre nor a crose , 2 
But a full purse: 

A straw for God’s curse! 

What are they the worse? 

For a simoniac 
Is but a hermoniac; 

And no more ye make 
Of simony, men say, 

But a child’s play! 

Over this, the foresaid lay. 

Report how the Pope may 

An holy anchor 3 call 

Out of the stony wall, * 

And him a bishop make, 

If he on him dare take 
To keep so hard a rule 
To ride upon a mule 4 
With gold all betrapped. 

In purple and pall 5 belapped; 

Some hatted and some capped, 

Richly and warm bewrapped, 

(God wot to their great pains !) 

In rochets 6 of fine Rennes, 

White as morrow’s milk; 

*no learning procure. 2 crosier. 3 anchorke, 

This passage refers directly to Wolsey. 5 rich trappings* 
“frocks of fine lawn - here, of Rennes linen - worn oy prelates. 


Their tabards 1 of fine silk, 

Their stirrups with gold begared 2 : 
There may no cost be spared. 

Their mules gold do eat: 

Their neighbours die for meat. 

What care they though Jill sweat, 
Or Jack of the Noke? 

The poor people they yoke 
With summons and citations 
And excommunications, 

About churches and market. 

The bishop on his carpet 
At home full soft doth sit. 

This is a farly fit , 3 
To hear the people jangle, 

How warly 4 they wrangle! 

Alas, why do ye not handle 
And them all to-mangle? 

F ull falsely on you they lie, r 
And shamefully you ascry , 5 
And say as untruly 
That a butterfly 
(A man might say in mock) 

Were the weathercock 
Of the steeple of Poules 6 ! 

And thus they hurt their soules 
In slandering you for truth, 

Alas, it is great ruth ! 

Some say ye sit in thrones, 

Like princes aqm!onis > 7 
And shrine your rotten bones 
With pearls and precious stones; 

But how the commons groans, 

2 adorned. 3 str£nge story 

war-like a manner. 5 call out against. 

6 Paul’s. 7 Lucifers. 



And the people moans 
For prestes 1 and for loans 
Lent and never paid , 2 
But from day to day delayed, 

The commonwealth decayed, 

Men say ye are tongue-tayed , 3 
And thereof speak nothing 
But dissimuling and glosing. 

Wherefore men be supposing 
That ye give shrewd counsell 
Against the common well, 

By polling and pillage 4 
In cities and village. 

By taxing and tollage, 

Y e make monks to have the culerage 5 
For 6 covering of an old cottage, 

That committed is a college 
In the charter of dotage, 

Tenure par service de sottage , 

And not par service de socage , 7 
After old seigneurs, 

And the learning of Littleton’s 8 Tenures. 

Ye have so overthwarted, 

That good laws are subverted, 

And good reason perverted. 

Religious men are fain 
For to turn again 
In secula seculorum> 9 
And to forsake their quorum 
And vagabundare per forum, 10 

x i.e. forced advances. 2 i.e. paid back. 3 tongue-tied. 

^cheating and robbing. 5 i.e. piles. 6 i.e. For want of. 

7 i.e. held for being sots and not as payment for labours done. 

8 A lawyer temp. Edward IV. He wrote a book* known as 
Littleton’s Tenures. 

"To secular pursuits. 10 to wander through the nfarket-place. 


And take a fine merit or um. 

Contra regulam morum y 
Jut black monachorum > 

Jut canonicorum , 

Jut Bernardinorum , 

Jut crucifix or um ^ 1 

And to sing from place to place, 

Like apostataas. 

And the selfsame game 
Begone is now with shame 
Amongst the silly nuns: 

My lady now she runs, 

Dame Sibyl our abbess, 

Dame Dorothy and lady Bess, 

Dame Sara our prioress, 

Out of their cloister and quere 2 
With an heavy cheer, 

Must cast up their black veils 
And set up their fuck-sails/ 

To catch wind with their ventales — 

What, Colin, there thou shales 4 ! 

Yet thus with ill-hails 5 
The lay people rails. 

And all the fault they lay 
On your precept, 6 and say 
Ye do them wrong and no right 

*to beg, or work for money, contrary to the rule of their order, 
and contrary to the canons of the Benedictines, or of the Cister- 
cians, or of . . . [?j. 

2 choir. 3 foresails - fashionable, lay head-dress. 

4 stumbles. 5 unhealthily. 

6 So MS. Dyce has “you prelates” But the former reading 
seems to be justified, as all the following passage (as well as much 
of the foregoing) would seem to refer to Wolsey’s suppression of 
the smaller monasteries. So that here the satire would be levelled 
directly at him. 



To put them thus to flight; 

No matins at midnight, 

Book and chalice gone quite; 

And pluck away the leads 

Even over their heads. 

And sell away their bells, 

And all that they have else! 

Thus the people tells, 

Rails like rebells, 

Redes shrewdly and spells , 1 

And with foundations mells , 2 

And talks like titi veils. 

How ye brake the dead’s wills, 

Turn monasteries into water-mills; 

Of an abbey ye make a grange 

( Y our works, they say, are strange) 

So that their founders’ souls 

Have lost their bead-rolls , 4 

The money for their masses 

Spent among wanton lasses; 

The Diriges are forgotten; 

Their founders lie there rotten! 

But where their soules dwell, 

. . * ** 

Therewith I will not mell. 

What could the Turk do more 

With all his false lore, 

Turk, Saracen, or Jew? 

I report me to you, 

O merciful Jesu! 

You support and rescue, 

My style for to direct, 

It may take some effect ! 

For I abhor to write 

How the laity dispight 

You prelates, that of right 

•Talks . . . preaches. 2 meddles. 3 worthless knaves, 




Should be lanterns of light. 

Ye live, they say, in delight, 
Drowned in deliciis. 

In gloria ei divitiis. 

In admirabili honors. 

In gloria et splendor e 
Fulgurantis hastae , 

Viventes parum caste . 1 
Yet sweet meat hath sour sauce: 
For after gloria, laus , 2 
Christ by crueltie 
Was nailed upon a tree; 

He paid a bitter pension 
For man’s redemption; 

He drank eisel 3 and gall 
To redeem us withal; 

But sweet hippocras ye drink, 
With, “ Let the cat wink!” 

I wot what each other think! 
Howbeit, per as simile ^ 4 
Some men think that ye 
Shall have penaltie 
For your iniquitie. 

Note what I say, 

And bear it well away. 

If it please not theologues, 

It is good for astrologues; 

For Ptolemy told me 
The sun sometime to be 
In Ariete 

■- . . in luxury. 

In glory and riches, 

In amazing state. 

In pomp and magnificence 
With splendid possessions. 
Living unchastely. 

2 glory, praise. 


4 in like manner. 



^i.e. Wolsey. 
2 tune. 

Ascendant a degree, 

When Scorpion descending 
Was so then portending 
A fatal fall of one 1 
That should sit on a throne, 
And rule all things alone. 

Y our teeth whet on this hone 
Amongst you every one, 

And let Colin Clout have none 
Manner of cause to moan! 

Lay salve to your own sore, 
For else, as I said before, 

After gloria , lausy 
May come a sour sauce. 

Sorry therefore am I, 

But truth can never lie ! 

With language thus polluted 
Holy Church is bruted 
And shamefully confuted. 

My pen now will I sharp. 

And wrest 2 up my harp „ 

With sharp twinking trebles, 

Against all such rebels 

That labour to confound 

And bring the Church to the ground; 

As ye may daily see 
How the laitie 
Of one affinitie 
Consent and agree 
Against the Church to be, 

And the dignitie 
Of the bishops’ see. 

This passage used to be known as^ u Skelton’s 


And either ye be too bad, 

Or else they are mad 
Of this to report. 

But, under your support, 

Till my dying day 
I shall both write and say, 

And ye shall do the same, 

How they are to blame 
You thus to defame: 

For it maketh me sad 
How that the people are glad 
The Church to deprave; 

And some there are that rave. 
Presuming on their wit, 

When there is never a whit 
To maintain arguments 
Against the sacraments. 

Some make epiloguation 
Of high predestination; 

And of recidivation 
They make interpretation 
Of an awkward fashion; 

And of the prescience 
Of divine essence; 

And what hypostasis 
Of Christ’s manhood is. 

Such logic men will chop, 

And in their fury hop, 

When the good ale sop 
Doth dance in their fore top 1 ! 
Both women and men, 

Such ye may well know and ken. 
That against priesthode 
Their malice spread abrode, 
Railing heinously 



And disdainously 
Of priestly dignities, 

And their malignities. 

And some have a smack’ 

Of Luther’s sack, 

And a burning spark 
Of Luther’s wark, 

And are somewhat suspect 
In Luther’s sect; 

And some of them bark, 

Clatter and carp 
Of that heresiarch 
Called Wicliffista, 

The devilish dogmatista; 

And some be Hussians, 

And some be Arians , 1 
And some be Pelagians, 

And make much variance 
Between the clergy 
And the temporalty. 

How the Church hath too mickle, 

And they have too little, ^ 

And bring in materialities 
And qualified qualities 
Of pluralities, 

Of trialities , 2 
And of tot quots 3 
They commune like sots, 

As cometh to their lots; 

Of prebendaries and deans, 

How some of them gleans 
And gathereth up the store 
For to catch more and more; 

Of parsons and vicaries 
They make many outcries — 

followers of Arius. triple benefices. dispensations. 


They cannot keep their wives 
From them for their lives! 

And thus the losells 1 strives. 

And lewdly says by Christ 
Against the silly priest 
Alas, and well away, 

What ails them thus to say? 

They might be better advised 
Than to be so disguised 2 ! 

But they have enterprised, 

And shamefully surmised, 

How prelacy is sold and bought, 

And come up of nought; 

And where the prelates be 
Come of low degree, 

And set in majestic 
And spiritual dignitie, 

Farewell benignitie. 

Farewell simplicitie. 

Farewell humili tie, 

Farewell good chari tie! 

c Ye are so puffed with pride, 

That no man may abide 
Your high and lordly looks: 

Y e cast up then your books, 

And virtue is forgotten; 

For then ye will be wroken* 

Of every light quarrel. 

And call a lord a javel, 4 
A knight a knave ye make; 

Ye boast, ye face, ye crake* 5 
And upon you ye take 
To rule both king and kayser 6 ; 

And if ye may have layser, 7 

v : ■ - 9 / . 

1 worthless fellows. 2 behave so badly. 3 revenged. *knave, 

5 fac£it out and vaunt. 6 emperor.. ’leisure. 


Ye will bring all to nought, 

And that is all your thought ! 1 
For the lords temporal, 

Their rule is very small, 

Almost nothing at all. 

Men say how ye appal 
The noble blood royal. 

In earnest and in game, 

Y e are the less to blame, 

For lords of noble blood, 

If they well understood 
How conning might them advance, 
They would pipe you another dance. 
But noblemen born 
To learn they have scorn. 

But hunt and blow an horn, 

Leap over lakes and dykes, 

Set nothing by politics! 

Therefore ye keep them base, 

And mock them to their face. 

Tblis is a piteous case ! 

To you that be on the wheel 2 
Great lords must crouch and kneel, 
And break their hose at the knee, 

As daily men may see, 

And to remembrance call: 

Fortune so turneth the ball 
And ruleth so over all, 

That honour hath a great fall. 

Shall I tell you more? yea, shall. 

I am loth to tell all; 

But the commonalty you call 
Idols of Babylon, 

De Terra Zabulon, 

1 This refers to Wolsey, of course. 

2 i.e. atop of Fortune’s wheel. 



De Terra Neptalim; 

For ye love to go trim. 

Brought up of poor estate. 

With pride inordinate, 

Suddenly upstart 
From the dung-cart, 

The mattock and the shule , 1 
To reign and to rule; 

And have no grace to think 
How ye were wont to drink 
Of a leather bottle 
With a knavish stopple. 

When mannocks 2 was your meat, 

With mouldy bread to eat; 

Y e could none other get 
To chew and to gnaw, 

To fill therewith your maw; 

Lodging in fair straw, 

Couching your drowsy heads 
Sometime in lousy beds. 

Alas, this is out of mind ! 

Ye grow now out of kind 3 : 

Many one ye have untwined , 4 
And make the commons blind. 

But qui se exist imat stare , 5 
Let him well beware 
Lest that his foot slip, 

And have such a trip, 

And fall in such decay, 

That all the world may say, 

“Come down, in the Devil way!” 

Yet, over 6 all that, 

Of bishops they chat, 

1 shovgl. 2 leavings. 3 unnatural. destroyed. 

6 “who thinketh he standeth . . . ” et seq. (i Cor. x. 12). 

6 besides 


That though ye round your hair 
An inch above your ear, 

And have aures patentes 1 
And parum intendentes , 2 
And your tonsures be cropped, 

Your ears they be stopped! 

F or master Adulator , 3 
And doctor Assentator, 4 
And Blandior blandiris , 5 
With Mentior mentiri$ y 6 
They follow your desires, 

And so they blear your eye, 

That ye cannot espy 
How the male doth wry. 7 

Alas, for God’s will, 

Why sit ye, prelates, still 
And suffer all this ill? 

Ye bishops of estates 8 
Should open the broad gates 
Of your spiritual charge, 

And come forth at large, 

• Like lanterns of light, 

In the people’s sight, 

In pulpits authentic, 

For the weal public 
Of priesthood in this case; 

And always to chase 
Such manner of schismatics 
And half heretics, 

That would intoxicate, 

That would coinquinate, 

That would contaminate, 

And that would violate, 

*open ears. 2 too little hearing. 3 Sycophant. 

4 Assenter. 6 1 flatter, you flatter. 6 1 lie, you lie. 

. 7 How everything goes awry. 8 of high Trank. 



And that would derogate. 

And that would abrogate 
The Church’s high estates , 1 
After this manner rates, — 

The which should be 
Both frank and free, 

And have their libertie. 

As of antiquitie 
It was ratified, 

And also gratified, 

By holy synodals 
And bulls papals. 

As it is res certa 
Contained in Magna Chart a. 

But master Damyan,* 

Or some other man, 

That clerkly is and can 
Well scripture expound 
And his texts ground, * 

His benefice worth ten pound, 

Or scant worth twenty mark, 

And yet a noble clerk. 

He must do this warkj 
As I know a part, 

Some masters of art. 

Some doctors of law, 

Some learned in other saw, 

As in divinitie, 

That hath no dignitie 
But the poor degree 
Of the universities 
Or else friar Frederick, 

Or else friar Dominick, 

Or friar Hugulinus, 


2 The njfttie of the squire in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale. 


Or friar Augustinus, 

Or friar Carmelus, 

That ghostly 1 can heal us; 

Or else if we may 
Get a friar gray. 

Or else of the order 
Upon Greenwich border. 

Called Observance, 

Or a friar of France; 

Or else the poor Scot, 

It must come to his lot 
To shoot forth his shot; 

Or of Babwell beside Bury, 

To postel 2 upon a Kyrie , 

That would it should be noted 
How scripture should be quoted, 

And so clerkly promoted; 

And yet the friar doted. 

* But men say your authoritie, 

And your noble see. 

And your dignitie, 

Should be imprinted better 
Than all the friars’ letter; 

For if ye would take pain 
To preach a word or twain, 

Though it were never so plain, 

With clauses two or three, 

So as they might be 
Compendiously conveyed, 

These words should be more weighed, 
And better perceived, 

And thankfullerly received, 

And better should remain 
Among the people plain, 

That would your words retain ^ 

spiritually. Annotate. 


And rehearse them again. 

Than a thousand thousand other 
That blabber, bark, and blother. 
And make a Welshman’s hose 1 
Of the text and of the glose. 2 

For protestation made. 

That I will not wade 
Farther in this brook, 

Nor farther for to look 
In devising of this book. 

But answer that I may 
For myself alway, 

Either analogue s 
Or else categories^ 

So that in divinity 
Doctors that learned be, 

Nor bachelors of that faculty 
That hath taken degree 
In the university, „ 

Shall not be object at by me. 

But doctor Bullatus, s 
Parum litter atus , 6 
Dominus doctoratus 
At the Broadgatus, 7 
Doctor Dawpatus, 

And bachelor hacheleratus , 
Drunken as a mouse, 

At the ale house, 

Taketh his pillion 8 and his cap 
At the good ale tap, 

For lack of good wine; 

*i.e. turn it anyway to suit their purpose. 

Analogically. ‘categorically. 

s Pu£Fed-up. 6 Too little learned. 

’Broadgatus Hall, Oxford, now Pembroke College, 


8 skull-cap, 



As wise as Robin swine, 

Under a notary’s sign 
Was made a divine; 

As wise as Waltham’s calf , 1 
Must preach, a God’s half. 

In the pulpit solemnly — 

More meet in the pillory! 

For, by saint Hillary, 

He can nothing smatter 
Of logic nor school matter. 

Neither syllogisare ^ 2 
Nor enthymemare , 3 
Nor knoweth his elenchs , 4 
Nor his predicaments 5 ; 

And yet he will mell 
To amend the Gospel, 

And will preach and tell 
What they do in hell; 

And he dare not well neven 6 
What they do in heaven, 

?Tor how far Temple Bar is 
From the Seven Starres. 

Now will I go 
And tell of other mo. 

Semper protestando 
De non impugnando 7 
The four orders of friars, 

Though some of them be liars; 

As Limiters 8 at large 
Will charge and discharge; 

1 Waltham’s calf ran nine miles to suck a bull. ^syllogise. 

Construct an enthymeme. 4 elenchus - in logic. 

5 In logic. ®name. 

’Always protesting ^ 

About not attacking. 

8 Friars licensed to beg within certain districts. ^ 



As many a friar, God wote. 

Preaches for his groat, 

Flattering for a new coat 
And for to have his fees; 

Some to gather cheese; 

Loth they are to Iese 1 
Either corn or malt; 

Sometime meal an<d salt. 

Sometime a bacon Hick , 2 
That is three fingers thick 
Of lard and of grease. 

Their convent to increase. 

I put you out of doubt. 

This can not be brought about 
But they their tongues file, 

And make a pleasant style 
To Margery and to Maud, 

How they have no fraud; 

And sometime they provoke- 
Both Jill and Jack at Noke 
Their duties to withdraw, 

That they ought by the law 
Their curates to content 
In open time 8 and Lent. 

God wot, they take great pain 
To flatter and to feign; 

But it is an old-said saw, 

That need hath no law. 

Some walk about in melotes , 4 
In gray russet and hairy coats; 

Some will neither gold nor groats; 

Some pluck a partridge in remotes , 5 

x lose. 2 flitch. 3 When no fasts were imposed. 

4 skin of hair garments, reaching from neck to loins, worn- 
monks during manual labour. 

, 5 remote jflaces. . 



And by the bars of her tail 
Will know a raven from a rail, 

A quail, the rail, and the old raven! 

Sed libera nos a malol x Amen, 

And by Dudum , their Clementine, 2 
Against curates they repine; 

And say properly they are sacerdotes , 3 
To shrive, assoyle,* and release 
Dame Margery’s soul out of hell. 

But when the friar fell in the well, 

He could not sing himself thereout 
But by the help of Christian Clout. 5 
Another Clementine also, 

How friar Fabian, with other mo, 

Exivit de Paradiso\ 

When they again thither shall come, 

De hoc petimus consilium: 

And through all the world they go 
With Dirige and Placebo . 6 

But now my mind ye understand, 

For they must take in hand 
To preach, and to withstand 
All manner of objections; 

For bishops have protections, 

They say, to do corrections. 

But they have no affections 
To take the said directions. 

In such manner of cases, 

Men say, they bear no faces 

*But deliver us from evil! 

*A bull of Clement V beginning with the word Dudum (see 
Clement , lib. III., tit. vii., cap. 2). 

3 priests. 4 confess, absolve. 

6 Or Christine Clout, feminine of Colin Clout. Refers to the 
ballad The Friar Well-fitted (see Ballads , British Museum,, 643 m). 

6 Dyce notes: “Considerable mutilation of the text may be 
suspected here.” a 

3 *° 


To occupy such places. 

To sow the seed of graces: 

Their hearts are so fainted, 

And they be so attainted 
With covetous 1 and ambition, 

And other superstition. 

That they be deaf and dumb, 

And play silence and glum, 

Can say nothing but “Mum!” 

They occupy them so 
With singing Placebo , 

They will no farther go: 

They had liefer 2 to please, 

And take their worldly ease. 

Than to take on hand 
Worshipfully to withstand 
Such temporal war and bate 3 
As now is made of late 
Against Holy Church estate 
Or to maintain good quarrels. 

The lay men call them barrels 
F ull of gluttony 
And of hypocrisy, 

That counterfeits and paints 4 
As they were very saints. 

In matters that them like 
They shew them politic, 
Pretending gravity 
And signiority, 

With all solemnity, 

For their indemnity! 

For they will have no loss 
Of a penny nor of a cross 5 
Of their predial lands, 

Covetousness. 2 rather. 3 debate. 

9 4 feigns. 5 Coins so marked. 



3 “ 

That cometh to their hands; 
And as far as they dare set, 

All is fish that cometh to net. 

Building royally 1 

Their mansions curiously, 

With turrets and with towers. 
With halls and with bowers, 
Stretching to the stars. 

With glass windows and bars; 
Hanging about the walls 
Cloths of gold and palls , 2 
Arras of rich array, 

Fresh as flowers in May; 

With dame Diana naked; 

How lusty Venus quaked, 

And how Cupid shaked 
His dart, and bent his bow 
For to shoot a crow 3 
At her tirly tirlow; 

And how Paris qf Troy 
Danced a lege de moy, 

Made lusty sport and joy 
With dame Helen the queen; 
With such stories bydene 4 
Their chambers well besene 6 ; 
With triumphs of Caesar, 

And of Pompeius’ war. 

Of renown and of fame, 

By them to get a name . 6 
Now all the world stares, 

How they ride in goodly chairs. 
Conveyed by elephants. 

With laureate garlands. 

defers especially to Wolsey’s building of Hampton Court. 

2 fine stuffs. 3 an arrow. together. 5 adorned. 

*This, and the following, is a description of a definite set of 
tapestries at Hampton Court known as “Petrarch’s Tribmphs.” 



And by unicorns 
With their seemly horns 3 
Upon these beasts riding. 

Naked boys striding. 

With wanton wenches winking. 
Now truly, to my thinking, 
That is a speculation 
And a meet meditation 
F or prelates of estate, 1 
Their corage 2 to abate 
F rom worldly wantonness, 
Their chambers thus to dress 
With such perfectness 
And all such holiness! 

Howbeit they let down fall 
Their churches cathedral. 

Squire, knight, and lord, 
Thus the Church remord 3 ; 
With all temporal people _ 
They run against the steeple, 
Thus talking and telling 
How some of you are melling 4 ; 
Yet soft and fair for swelling - 
Beware of a quean’s yelling. 5 
It is a busy thing 
For one man to rule a king 
Alone and make reckoning, 

To govern over all 
And rule a realm royal 
By one man’s very wit. 

Fortune may chance to flit, 

And when he weeneth 6 to sit, 
Yet may he miss the cushion: 
For I rede 7 a preposition - 

*of high rank, 2 a£Fection. 3 blame. 

s i.e. awoman’s chatter. 6 thinketh. 

4 meddling. 
7 tell. 



Cum regibus amicare , 

Et omnibus dominari , 

Et supra te pravare . 1 
Wherefore he hath good ure 2 
That can himself assure 
How fortune will endure. 

Then let reason you support, 

For the commonalty doth report 
That they have great wonder 
That ye keep them so under; 

Y et they marvel so much less. 

For ye play so at the chess,. 

As they suppose and guess, 

That some of you but late 
Hath played so check-mate 
With lords of great estate. 

After such a rate. 

That they shall mell nor make. 

Nor upon them take, 

Fpr king’s nor kayser’s sake, 

But at the pleasure of one 
That ruleth the roost alone. 


Helas, I say, helas! 

How may this come to pass, 

That a man shall hear a mass, 

And not so hardy on his head 8 
To look on God in form of bread, 

But that the parish clerk 
Thereupon must heark, 

And grant him at his asking 
For to see the sacring 4 ? 

*To be friendly with kings. 

And all things to rule. 

And to overleap thyself. » 

2 hap, fortune. ®i.e. not be so bold, upon pain of jiis head. 

4 sacrament. 


And how may this accord. 

No man to our sovereign lord 
So hardy to make suit, 

Nor yet to execute 
His commandment, 

Without the assent 
Of our president, 

Nor to express to his person, 

Without your consentation 
Grant him his licence 
To press to his presence, 

Nor to speak to him secretly, 
Openly nor privily, 

Without this president be by. 

Or else his substitute 
Whom he will depute? 

Neither earl ne duke 
Permitted? By saint Luke, 

And by sweet saint Mark, 

This is a wondrous wark ! ^ 

That the people talke this , 1 
Somewhat there is amiss: 

The Devil cannot stop their mouths, 
But they will talk of such uncouths , 2 
All that ever they ken 
Against all spiritual men ! 

Whether it be wrong or right, 

Or else for despight. 

Or however it hap, 

Their tongues thus do clap, 

And through such detraction 
They put you to your action; 

And whether they say truly 
As they may abide thereby. 

Or else that they do lie, 

Ye know better than I ! 


2 strange matters. 



But now debetis scire , 

And groundly audire , 

In your convemre y 
Of this praemunire. 

Or else in the mire 

They say they will you cast: 

Therefore stand sure and fast! 

Stand sure, and take good footing, 

And let be all your mooting, 

Your gasping and your tooting , 1 
And your partial promoting 
Of those that stand in your grace. 

But old servants ye chase, 

And put them out of their place . 2 
Make ye no murmuration, 

Though I write after this fashion; 

Though I, Colin Clout, 

Among the whole rout 3 
Of you that clerks be, 

Take now upon me 
Thus copiously to write, 

I do it for no despite. 

Wherefore take no disdain 
At my style rude and plain; 

For I rebuke no man 
That virtuous is: why then 
Wreak ye your anger on me? 

For those that virtuous be 
Have no cause to say 
That I speak out of the way! 

Of no good bishop speak I, 

Nor good priest I ascry , 4 


2 Perhaps a reference to Skelton himself, who was an ^>ld Court 
s crowd. 

4 attack. 

3 l6 


Good friar, nor good chanon, 
Good nun, nor good canon. 
Good monk, nor good clerk, 
Nor yet of no good wark: 

But my recounting is 
Of them that do amiss, 

In speaking and rebelling, 

In hindering and disavailing 1 
Holy Church, our mother, 

One against another. 

To use such despiting 
Is all my whole writing; 

To hinder no man, 

As near as I can, 

For no man have I named: 
Wherefore should I be blamed? 
Y e ought to be ashamed, 

Against me to be gramed , 2 
And can tell no cause why, 

But that I write truly ! 


Then if any there be 
Of high or low degree 
Of the spirituali tie, 

Or of the temporalitie, 

That doth think or ween 
That his conscience be not clean, 
And feeleth himself sick, 

Or touched on the quick, 

Such grace God them send 
Themselves to amend, — 

For I will not pretend 
Any man to offend! 

Wherefore, as thinketh me, 

* Great idiots they be, 

•‘acting to the detriment of. 




And little grace they have, 

This treatise to deprave; 

Nor will hear no preaching, 

Nor no virtuous teaching, 

Nor will have no resting 
Of any virtuous writing; 

Will know none intelligence 
To reform their negligence, 

But live still out of fashion, 

To their own damnation! 

To do shame they have no shame, 

But they would no man should them blame! 
They have an evil name. 

But yet they will occupy the same ! 

With them the word of God 
Is counted for no rod; 

They count it for a railing, 

That nothing is availing. 

The preachers with evil hailing: 

“Shall they daunt us prelates, 

That be their primates? 

Not so hardy on their pates! 

Hark, how the losel 1 prates. 

With a wide wesaunt 2 ! 

Avaunt, sir Guy of Gaunt! 

Avaunt, lewd priest, avaunt! 

Avaunt, sir doctor Devias! 

Prate of thy matins and thy mass, 

And let our matters pass ! 

How darest thou, dawcock, mell? 

How darest thou, losel, 

Allegate 8 the Gospel 
Against us of the councel? 

Avaunt to the Devil of hell! 

Take him, Warden of the Fleet , 4 # 

1 knave. a gullet. Allege. 

4 i.e. Fleet Prison. 


Set him fast by the feet! 

I say. Lieutenant of the Tower, 

Make this lurdain 1 for to lours 
Lodge him in Little Ease, 2 3 
Feed him with beans and peas! 

The King’s Bench or Marshalsea, 

Have him thither by and by ! 

The villain preacheth openly, 

And declareth our villany; 

And of our free simpleness. 

He says that we are reckless. 

And full of wilfulness, 

Shameless and merciless, 

Incorrigible and insatiate; 

And after this rate 
Against us doth prate! 

“At Paul’s Cross or elsewhere, 

Openly at Westminstere, 

And Saint Mary Spittle, 

They set not by us a whistle ! 

At the Austin Friars 
They count us for liars ! 

And at Saint Thomas of Akers 
They clack of us like crakers, 

How we will rule all at will 
Without good reason or skill; 

And say how that we be 
Full of partialitie; 

And how at a prong 
We turn right into wrong, 

Delay causes so long 
That right no man can fong 8 ; 

They say many matters be born 

1 clown # 

^Concerning this famous cell, see Ainsworth’s Tower of London 

3 find. * 



By the right of a ram’s horn A ! 

Is not this a shameful scorn, 

To be teared thus and torn? 

“How may we this endure? 
Wherefore we make you sure. 

Ye preachers shall be yawed 2 ; 

And some shall be sawed, 

As noble Isaias, 

The holy prophet, was; 

And some of you shall die. 

Like holy Jeremy; 

Some hanged, some slain, 

Some beaten to the brain; 

And we will rule and reign, 

And our matters maintain. 

Who dare 8 say there again, * 

Or who dare disdain, 

At our pleasure and will ! 

Tor, be it good or be it ill. 

As it is, it shall be still, - 
For all master doctor of Civil, 

Or of Dominic, or doctor Drivel, « 
Let him cough, rough , 5 or snivel! 

Run God, run Devil, 

Run who may run best, 

And let take all the rest! 

We set not a nutshell 
The way to heaven or hell!” 

Lo, this is the guise nowadays! 

It is to dread, men says, 

Lest they be Sadducees, 

As they be said sain , 8 

*By justice as crooked as a ram’s horns. 2 cut€own. 

8 Whoever dare. (So also in next line.) ‘ 4 |gainst. 

5 belch. 6 reported. 


Which determined plain 
We should not rise again 
At dreadful doomsday. 

And so it seemeth they play, 

Which hate to be corrected 
When they be infected, 

Nor will suffer this book 
By hook ne by crook 
Printed for to be, 

For that no man should see 
Nor read in any scrolls 
Of their drunken noils, 

Nor of their noddy polls. 

Nor of their silly souls. 

Nor of some witless pates 
Of divers great estates , 1 
As well as other men. 

Now to withdraw my pen, 

And now a while to rest, 

Meseemeth it for the best. 

#*. The forecastle of my ship 

Shall glide, and smoothly slip 
Out of the waves wood 2 
Of the stormy flood ; 

Shoot anchor, and lie at road , 3 
And sail not far abroad, 

Till the coast be clear, 

And the lode-star appear. 

My ship now will I steer 
Toward the port salu* 

Of our Saviour Jesu , 5 
Such grace that he us send, 

To rectify and amend 

persons of high rank. 2 wild. 3 in harbour. 4 safe port. 

5 May refd£ to his intention to go into sanctuary in 1523. 


Things that are amiss. 

When that his pleasure is. 

In op ere imperfecto , 

In op ere semper perfecto , 

Et in opere plusquam perfecto 1 1 

Coltnus Cloutus , quanquam mea carmina multis 
Sordescunt stultis , sed puevinate sunt rare cultisy 
Pue vinatis altisem divino famine flat is. 

Unde mea refert tanto ?ninus y invida quamvis 
Lingua nocere par at , quia y quanquam rustica canto , 
Undique cantahor tamen et celebrabor ubique , 

Inclita dum maneat gens Anglica. Laurus honoris , 
Quondam regnorum regina et gloria regum , 

Heu , tfzfldk marcescit , tabescit, languida torpetl 
Ah pudet 3 ah miser et! vetor hie ego pander e plura 
Pro gemita et lacrimis : praestet peto praemia paena . 1 

x In an imperfect work. 

In a work always perfect, 

And in a work more than perfect. 

2 [First three lines unintelligble.] Whence it concerns me so 
much the less, although the envious tongue prepares to hurt, be- 
cause, although I sing of rustic things, yet I shall be sung about on 
all sides, and everywhere shall be celebrated, so long as the glorious 
English race remains. The laurel of honour, once the queen of 
possessions and the glory of kings, alas ! now decays and rots and 
grows languid and torpid! Ah, the shame! ah, the pity! Here I 
am forbidden, for groaning and tears, to speak more. I pray the 
rewards may exceed the punishment. 

How the Doughty 

Like a Coward Knight , Ran Away Shamefully With an 
Hundred Thousand Trailing Scots and Faint-Hearted 
Frenchmen , Beside the Water of the Tweed . r 

Rejoice, England, 

And understand 
These tidings new, 

Which be as true 
As the gospell: 

This duke so fell 
Of Albany, 

So cowardly, 

With all his host 
Of the Scottish coast, ^ 

For all their boast, 

Fled like a beast; 

„ \ Wherefore to jest 

\ Is my delight 
X>f this coward knight, 

And for to write 
In the despight 
Of the Scots rank 
Of Huntley-bank, 2 
Of Lowdian, 3 
Of Locrian, 4 
And the ragged ray 
Of Galloway. 

Regent of Scotland during James Y’s minority. This poem 
refers to his invasion of the borders in 1523. 

*Skeltoft often uses Scottish words throughout the poem quite at 
random, as “local colour.” 

3 Lothian. 4 Loch Ryan. 




Dunbar, Dundee, 

Y e shall trow me, 

False Scots are ye: 

Your hearts sore fainted, 
And so attainted, 

Like cowards stark, 

At the Castle of Wark, 
By the Water of Tweed, 
Ye had evil speed; 

Like cankered curs 
Y e lost your spurs. 

For in that fray 
Ye ran away, 

With, hey, dog, hey! 

For Sir William Lyle 
Within short while. 
That valiant knight, 

Put you to flight; 

By his valiance 

Two thousand of France 

There he put back, 

To your great lack , 1 
And utter shame 
Of your Scottish name. 
Your chief chieftain, 
Void of all brain, 

Duke of all Albany, 
Then shamefully 
He recoiled back, 

To his great lack, 

When he heard tell 
That my Lord Admiral 2 
Was coming down 

2 i.e. Surrey. 



To make him frown 
And to make him lour, 

With the noble power 
Of my lord cardinal, 

As an hoste royal, 

After the ancient manner, 
With Saint Cuthbert’s banner, 
And Saint William’s also; 
Your capitain ran to go, 

To go, to go, to go, 

And brake up all his host; 

For all his crake and boast, 
Like a coward knight 
He fled and durst not fight, 

He ran away by night. 

But now must I 
Y our Duke ascry 
Of Albany 
With a word or twain 
In sentence plain. 

Ye duke so doughty, 

So stern, so stouty, 

In short sentence 
Of your pretence 
What is the ground 
Briefly and round 
To me expound, 

Or else will I 
Shew as it is: 

For the cause is this, 

How ye pretend 

For to defend 

The young Scottish king, 

But ye mean a thing, 

An ye could bring 
The matter about, 




To put his eyes out 
And put him down. 

And set his crown 
On your own head 
When he were dead. 

Such treachery 
And traitory 
Is all your cast; 

Thus ye have compassed 
With the French king 
A false reckoning 
To invade England, 

As I understand: 

But our king royall, 

Whose name over all. 

Noble Henry the Eight, 

Shall cast a bait, 

And set such a snare 
That shall cast you in care, 

Both King F rancis and thee, 

That knowen ye shall be 
For the most recrayd 1 
Cowards afraid, 

And falsest forsworn. 

That ever were born. 

O ye wretched Scots, 

Ye puant 2 pisspots, 

It shall be your lots 
To be knit up with knots 
Of halters and ropes 
About your traitors 7 throats! 

O Scots perjured, 

Unhappy vred , 3 

Ye may be assured 

Your falsehood discured 4 • 

2 stinking. 3 unfortunate. discovered. 



It is and shall be 
From the Scottish sea 
Unto Gabione! 

For ye be false each one, 

False and false again, 

Never true nor plain, 

But fleer, flatter, and feign, 

And ever to remain 
In wretched beggary 
And mangy misery. 

In lowsy loathsomeness 
And scabbed scurfiness, 

And in abomination 
Of all manner of nation, — 
Nation most in hate. 

Proud and poor of state! 

Twit, Scot, go keep thy den, 
Mell 1 not with Englishmen; 
Thou did nothing but bark 
At the Castle of Wark. 

Twit, Scot, yet again once 
We shall break thy bones, 

And hang you upon poles, 

And burn you all to coals; 

With, twit Scot, twit Scot, twit! 
Walk, Scot, go beg a bit 
Of bread at each man’s heck 8 ! 
The fiend, Scot, break thy neck! 
Twit, Scot, again I say, 

Twit, Scot of Galloway, 

Twit, Scot, shake*thee dog, hey! 
Twit, Scot, thou ran away! 

We set not a fly 
By your Duke of Albany; 

• We set not a prane 3 

2 hatch, door. 

1 nffeddle. 

3 prawn. 



By such a drunken drane 1 ; 

We set not a mite 
By such a coward knight. 

Such a proud palliard , 1 
Such a skirgalliard , 3 
Such a stark coward, 

Such a proud poltrown. 

Such a foul coistrown , 4 
Such a doughty dagswain 5 ! 

Send him to France again, 

To bring with him more brain 
From King Francis of France: 

God send them both mischance! 

Y e Scots all the rabble, 

Y e shall never be able 
With us for to compare; 

What though ye stamp and stare? 
God send you sorrow and care! 
c With us whenever ye mell, 

Yet we bear away the bell, 

When ye cankered knaves 
Must creep into your caves 
Your heads for to hide. 

For ye dare not abide. 

Sir Duke of Albany, 

Right inconveniently , 6 
Y e rage and ye rave, 

And your worship deprave: 

Not like Duke Hamilcar, 

With the Romans that made war, 
Nor like his son Hanibal, ■ 

Nor like Duke Hastrubal 
Of Carthage in Afric; 

Mrone. 2 rascal. 3 runaway. 4 sculli<?n. 

5 literally, a rough coverlet. 6 unbecon*ingly. 


Yet somewhat ye be like 
In some of their conditions, 

And their false seditions, 

And their dealing double, 

And their wayward trouble: 

But yet they were bold. 

And manly manifold, 

Their enemies to assail 
In plain field and battail; 

But ye and your host, 

F ull of brag and boast, 

And full of waste wind, 

How ye will bears bind, 

And the devil down ding, 1 
Yet ye dare do nothing 
But leap away like frogs, 

And hide you under logs, 

Like pigs and like hogs, 

And like mangy dogs ! 

What an army were ye? 

Or what activity 

Is in you, beggers, brawls, 

F ull of scabs and scawls. 

Of vermine and of lice, 

And of all manner vice? 

Sir Duke, nay. Sir Duck, 

Sir Drake of the Lake, Sir Duck 
Of the Dunghill, for small luck 
Y e have in feats of war; 

Y e make nought but ye mar; 

Y e are a false intruder, 

And a false abuser, 

And an untrue knight; 

Thou hast too little might 
Against England to fight. 

1 knock down. 



Thou art a graceless wight 
To put thyself to flight: 

A vengeance and despight 
On thee must needs alight, 

That durst not bide the sight 
Of my Lord Admiral, 

Of chivalry the well, 

Of knighthood the flower 
In every martial shower, 1 
The noble Earl of Surrey, 

That put thee in such fray; 

Thou durst no field derain, 2 
Nor no battle maintain 
Against our strong captain, 

But thou ran home again 
For fear thou should be slain. 

Like a Scottish ketering 2 
That durst abide no reckoning; 

Thy heart would not serve thee: 

The fiend of hell might sterve 4 thee! 

m . 

No man hath heard 
Of such a coward, 

And such a mad image * 

Carried in a cage, 

As it were a cottage ! 

Or of such a mawment 5 
Carried in a tent. 

In a tent! nay, nay, 

But in a mountain gay, 

Like a great hill 
For a windmill, 

Therein to couch still, 

That no man him kill; 

As it were a goat 
In a sheep-cote, 


>storm, assault. 2 contest. 3 border~raider. 4 damn. 

5 puppet. * 



About him a park 
Of a mad wark. 

Men call it a toyl . 1 
Therein, like a royl , 2 
Sir Duncan, ye dared , 3 
And thus ye prepared 
Your carcass to keep 
Like a silly sheep, 

A sheep of Cotswold, 

From rain and from cold, 

And from raining of raps, 

And such after claps: 

Thus in your cowardly castell 
Ye dect you to dwell! 

Such a captain of horse. 

It made no great force 4 
If that ye had ta’en 
Your last deadly bane 
With a gun-stone , 6 
To make you to groan. 

But hide thee, Sir Topas, 

Now into the Castle of Bass, 

And lurk there, like an ass, 

With some Scottish lass 
With dugs, dugs, dugs! 

I shrew thy Scottish lugs , 8 
Thy munypins, and thy crag , 7 
For thou cannot but brag 
Like a Scottish hag. 

Adieu now, Sir Wrig-Wrag, 

Adieu, Sir Dalyrag! 

Thy melling is but mocking; 

Thou may’st give up thy cocking. 

Give it up, and cry creke, 

Like an hoddipeke 8 ! 

*snare. 2 wench. 3 lurked [terrified]. 

4 did not greatly matter. 5 cannon-ball. 6 ears, 

’mouth-pins [teeth] . . . throat. 8 fool. 



Whereto should I more speak 
Of such a farly freke , 1 
Of such an horn keke, 

Of such a bold captain 
That dare not turn again. 

Nor durst not crack a word, 

Nor durst not draw his sword 
Against the Lion White , 2 
But ran away quite? 

He ran away by night. 

In the owl flight, 

Like a coward knight, 

Adieu, coward, adew, 

False knight, and most untrue! 

I render thee, false rebell, 

To the flinging fiend of hell. 

Hark yet, Sir Duke, a word. 

In earnest or in bawd: 

What, have ye, villain, forged. 

And virulently disgorged, 

As though ye would parbrake, a 
Y our avaunts to make, 

With words enbosed,* * 

Ungratiously engrosed, 

How ye will undertake 
Our royal king to make 
His own realm to forsake? 

Such lewd language ye spake. 

Sir Duncan, in the devil way, 

Be well ware what ye say: 

Ye say that he and ye,— 

Which he and ye? let see: 

Ye mean Francis, French king. 

Should bring about this thing. 

I say, thou lewd lurdain , 5 

strange fellow. 2 Surrey’s badge. 8 vomit. 

4 swollen words. 5 vile clown. * 


That neither of you twain 
So hardy nor so bold 
His countenance to behold! 

If our most royal Harry 
List with you to varry 1 
F ull soon ye should miscarry. 

For ye durst not tarry 
With him to strive a stound 3 ; 

If he on you but frown’d, 

Not for a thousand pound, 

Ye durst bide on the ground, 

Y e would run away round. 

And cowardly turn your backs, 
For all your comely cracks , 3 
And, for fear par case 
To look him in the face 
Ye would defile the place, 

And run your way apace. 

Though I trim you this trace 
With English somewhat base, 

Yet, save voster grace , 

Thereby I shall purchace 
No displeasant reward, 

If ye well can regard 
Your cankered cowardness 
And your shameful doubleness. 

Are ye not frantic mad, 

And wretchedly bestad, 

To rail against his grace 
That shall bring you full base, 
And set you in such case 
That between you twain 
There shall be drawen a train 
That shall be to your pain? 

To fly ye shall be fain, 

And never turn again. 

intend. 2 moment. 3 boasts. 


What, would Francis, our friar. 
Be such a false liar, 

So mad a cordelier , 1 
So mad a murmurer? 

Y e muse somewhat too far, 

All out of joint ye jar: 

God let you never thrive! 

Ween ye, dawcocks, to drive 
Our king out of his ream? 

Ge heme, rank Scot, ge heme. 

With fond Francis, French king: 
Our master shall you bring, 

I trust, to low estate, 

And mate you with check-mate! 

Your brains are idle; 

It is time for you to bridle, 

And pipe in a quibible 2 ; 

For it is impossible 
For you to bring about 
CTur king for to drive out 
Of this his realm royal 
And land imperial; 

So noble a prince as he 
In all activitie 
Of hardy martial actes, 

Fortunate in all his feates. 

And now I will me ’dress 
His valiance to express, 

Though insufficient am I 
His grace to magnify 
And laud equivalently. 

Howbeit, loyally. 

After mine allegiance, 

My pen I will advance 
To extol his noble grace, 

^Franciscan friar. 2 a silly song (?)T 



Inspite of thy coward’s face, 

Inspite of King F rancis, 

Devoid of all noblesse, 

Devoid of good corage , 1 
Devoid of wisdom sage, 

Mad, frantic, and savage; 

Thus he doth disparage 
His blood with fond dotage. 

A prince to play the page 
It is reckless rage, 

And a lunatic over-rage. 

What though my style be rude? 

With truth it is enewed 2 : 

Truth ought to be rescued, 

Truth should not be subdued. 

But now will I expound 
What nobleness doth abound. 

And what honour is found, 

And what virtues be resident 
In our royal regent, 

Our peerless president, 

Our king most excellent. 

In martial prowess 
Like unto Hercules; 

In prudence and wisdom 
Like unto Solomon; 

In his goodly person 
Like unto Absolon; 

In loyalty and foy 3 
Like to Hector of Troy; 

And his glory to increase, 

Like to Scipiades 4 ; 

* In royal majesty 

inclination. 2 brightened. 8 faith. 4 Scipio. 


M! I * 



Like unto Ptolemy, 

Like to Duke Josue, 

And the valiant Machube; 
That if I would report 
All the royal sort 
Of his nobility, 

His magnanimity, 

His animosity , 1 
His frugality, 

His liberality, 

His affability, 

His humanity. 

His stability, 

His humility. 

His benignity. 

His royal dignity. 

My learning is too small 
For to recount them all. 

What losells* then are ye. 
Like cowards as ye be, 

To rail on his estate. 

With words inordinate! 

He rules his commalty 
With all benignity; 

His noble baronage, 

He putteth them in corage 
To exploit deeds of arms, 

To do damage and harms 
Of such as be his foes. 
Wherever he rides or goes 
His subjects he doth support, 
Maintain them with comfort 
Of his most princely port. 

As all men can report. 


2 knaves. 


Then ye be a snappish sort, 

Et fait ez a luy grand tort y 
With your enbosed 1 jaws 
To rail on him like daws: 

The fiend scratch out your maws ! 

All his subjects and he 
Most lovingly agree 
With whole heart and true mind, 
They find his grace so kind 5 
Wherewith he doth them bind 
- At all hours to be ready 
With him to live and die. 

And to spend their hearts’-blood, 
Their bodies and their good, 

With him in all distress, 

Alway in readiness 
To assist his noble grace; 

Inspite of thy coward’s face, 

Most false attainted traitor, 

And false forsworn faitor. 55 

Avaunt, coward recrayed 3 ! 
r Thy pride shall be allayed; 

With Sir F rancis of F ranee 
We shall pipe you a dance, 

Shall turn you to mischance! 

I rede 4 you, look about; 

For ye shall be driven out 
Of your land in short space: 

We will so follow in the chase 
That ye shall have no grace 
For to turn your face; 

And thus, Saint George to borrow, 5 
Y e shall have shame and sorrow. 

frothing. 2 dissembler. 3 recreant. 4 advise. 
5 St. George being my pledge. 




Go, little quaire, quickly; 

Shew them that shall you read 
How that ye are likely 

Over all the world to spread. 

The false Scots for dread, 

With the Duke of Albany, 

Beside the Water of Tweed 
They fled full cowardly. 

Though your English be rude, 

Barren of eloquence, 

Y et, briefly to conclude. 

Grounded is your sentence 
On truth, under defence 
Of all true Englishmen, 

This matter to credence 
That I write with my pen. 

JBkelton Laureate, Obsequious et LoyaL 

Hereafter follow eth a little Book which hath to name 


Compiled by Maister Skelton, Poet Laureate 

The relucent mirror for all Prelates and Presidents, as well 
spiritual as temporal, sadly to look upon, 
devised in English 

All noblemen of this take heed, 

And believe it as your Creed. 

Too hasty of sentence, 

Too fierce for none offence, 

Too scarce of your expence, 

Too large in negligence, 

Too slack in recompence, 

Too haut in excellence, 

Too light in intelligence, 

And too light in credence: 
r Where these keep residence 
Reason is banished thence, 

And also Dame Prudence, 

With sober Sapience. 

All noblemen of this take heed, 

And believe it as your Creed. 

Then, without collusion, 

Mark well this conclusion, 

Through such abusion, 

And by such illusion, 

Unto great confusion 
A nobleman may fall, 

And his honour appall; 
r And if ye think this shall 
■ 338 


Not rub you on the gall 
Then the devil take all! 

All noblemen of this take heed. 

And believe it as your Creed. 

Haec vates ille, 

De quo loquantur milled 

Why Come Ye Not To Court? 1 

For age is a page | 

For the court full unmeet, | 

For age cannot rage, 2 | 

Nor bass 3 her sweet sweet. ill 

But when age seeth that rage | 

Doth assuage and refrain, | 

Then will age have a corage * j: 

To come to court again. | 

- But 
Helas, sage over-age 
So madly decays 
That age for dotage 
Is reckoned nowadays. 

Thus age (a grand dommage) 

Is nothing set by. 

And rage in over-age 
Doth run lamentably. 


That rage must make pillage 
To catch that catch may. 

And with such forage 
Hunt the boskage, 8 
That harts will run away ! 

Both harts and hinds 

That poet of whom a thousand speak. 2 toy wantonly. 

*kiss. ^inclination. 5 woods. 

V ; > Kv/To? ;: T. ■ > > ' "^4 v ■ ' -->T ■ " . V : : V V ' ■M 


With all good minds: 

Farewell, then, have good-day! 

Then, have good-day, adew! 

For default of rescue 
Some men may haply rue, 

And some their heads mew; 

The time doth fast ensue 
That bales 1 begin to brew. 

I drede, by sweet Jesu, 

This tale will be too true — 

“In faith, deacon, thou crew, 

In faith, deacon, thou crew! 5 ’ 

“Deacon, thou crew!” doubtless! 

For, truly to express, 

There hath been much excess. 

With banqueting brainless, 

With rioting reckeless, 

With gambolling thriftless, 

With spend and waste witless, 

Treating of truce restless, 

Prating of peace peaceless. 

The countering at Calais 2 
Wrung us on the males 3 : 

Chief Counsellor was careless, 

Groaning, grudging, graceless; 

And, to none intent. 

Our tall wood all is brent, 4 
Our faggots are all spent. 

We may blow at the coal! 

Our mare hath lost her foal, 

And “Mock hath lost her shoe: 


2 Probably refers to Wolsey’s expedition to Calais, July-Nov- 
ember, x 5 2 1 , as mediator between F rancis and Charles. It has been 
formerly supposed that this passage referred to the Field of the 
Cloth of Gold (1 520). It may refer to both expeditions. 

3 purses. Probably - Cost us something. 4 fire-wood . . . burnt. 


What may she do thereto?” 

An end of an old song. 

Do right and do no wrong ! 

As right as a ram’s horn ! 

For thrift is thread-bare worn, 

Our sheep our shrewdly shorn, 

And truth is all to-torn; 

Wisdom is laughed to scorn, 

Favell 1 is false forsworn, 

Javell 2 is nobly born, 

Havell and Harvy Hafter, 3 
Jack Travell and Cole Crafter - 
We shall hear more hereafter. 

With polling and shaving, 

With borrowing and craving, 

With reaving and raving, 

With swearing and staring. 

There ’vaileth no reasoning, 

F or Will doth rule all thing, 

Will, Will, Will, Will, Will! 

Re ruleth alway still. 

Good reason and good skill, 

They may be garlic pill, * 

Carry sacks to the mill, 

Or peascods they may shill, 5 
Or else go roast a stone! 

There is no man but one 6 
That hath the strokes alone: 

Be it black or white, 

All that he doth is right - 
As right as a camock crooked. 7 
This bill well over-looked. 

Clearly preceive we may 
There went the hare away, 

The hare, the fox, the gray, 8 

1 Flattery. 2 Low knave. 3 See this character in Bouge of Court, 

4 peel. 5 shell. 6 i.e. Wolsey. 7 a crooked branch. 8 badger. 


The hart, the hind, the buck 1 : 
God send us better luck, 

God send us better luck! 

Twit, Andrew, twit, Scot, 

Ge hame, ge scour the pot: 

For we have spent our shot. 

We shall have a tot quot % 

From the Pope of Rome, 

To weave all in one lome 
A web of linsey-woolsey. 

Opus male dulce: 

The devil kiss his cule 3 ! 

For, whiles he doth rule 
All is warse and warse, 

The devil kiss his arse! 

For whether he bless or curse 
It cannot be much worse. 

From Bamborough to Botham Bar 
We have cast up our war, 

And made worthy truce 
With “Gup, levell suse!” 

Our money madly lent, 

And more madly spent: 

From Croydon to Kent 
Wot ye whither they went? 

From Winch elsea to Rye, 

And all not worth a fly! 

From Wentbridge to Hull 
Our army waxeth dull, 

With “Turn all home again!” 

And never a Scot slain. 

Y et the good Earl of Surrey 4 

*A reference, probably, to the Duke of Buckingham, who was 
believed to have been impeached and brought to the block by 
Wolsey in 1521. 

*a dispensation. 3 tail. Surrey’s expedition, July, 1522. 


The Frenchmen he doth fray. 

And vexeth them day by day 
With all the power he may; 

The F renchmen he hath fainted, 

And made their hearts attainted: 

Of chivalry he is the floure, 

Our Lord be his succdur! 

The Frenchmen he hath so mated 1 
And their courage abated 
That they are but half men: 

Like foxes in their den, 

Like cankered cowards all, 

Like urchins 2 in a stone wall, 

They keep them in their holds. 

Like hen-hearted cuckolds. 

But yet they over-shoot us 
With crowns and with scutus 3 ; 

With scutes and crowns of gold 
I ^rede we are bought and sold: 

It is a wondrous wark! 

They shoot all at one mark, - 
At the Cardinal’s hat, ^ 

They shoot all at that. 

Out of their strong towns 
They shoot at him with crowns: 

With crowns of gold emblazed 
They make him so amazed 
And his eyen so dazed 
That he ne see can 
To know God nor man! 

He is set so high 
In his hierarchy 
Of frantic frenezy 
And foolish fantasy, 

Confounded, check-mated. 2 hedge-hogs. 

3 scut, coin worth about 31. ^ 



That in the Chamber of Stars 1 
All matters there he mars; 
Clapping his rod on the board, 
No man dare speak a word, 

For he hath all the saying 
Without any renaying . 3 
He rolleth in his records, 

He saith “How say ye, my lords? 
Is not my reason good?” 

(Good even, good Robin Hood ! 8 ) 
Some say “Yes!” and some 
Sit still as they were dumb! 

Thus thwarting over thum 
He ruleth all the roast 
With bragging and with boast. 
Borne up on every side 
With pomp and with pride, 

With “Trump up, Alleluia!” 

For Dame Philargeria 4 
Hath so his heart in hold 
He loveth nothing but gold; 

And Asmodeus of hell 
Maketh his members swell 
With Dalida 5 to mell, 

That wanton damosell. 

Adew, Philosophia! 

Adew, Theologia! 

Welcome, Dame Simonia , 6 
With Dame Castrimargia , 7 
To drink and for to eat 
Sweet hippocras and sweet meat! 
To keep his flesh chaste, 

In Lent, for a repaste 
He eateth capons stewed, 

^Jar-Chamber. ^contradicting. 

4 A proverbial expression for civility extorted by fear. 
4 Cupdity. 6 Delilah. 6 Simony. 7 gluttony. 


Pheasant and partridge mewed. 

Hens, chickens, and pigs: 

He froynes and he frigs, 

Spareth neither maid nor wife: 

This is a ’postle’s life! 

Helas ! my heart is sorry 
To tell of vain glory! 

But now upon this story 
I will no further rime 
Till another time, 

Till another time. 

What newes y what new is? 

Small newes that true is, 

That be worth two cues. 1 
But at the naked stewes, 3 
I understand how that 
The Sign of the Cardinal's Hat y z 
That inn is now shut up. 

With “Gup, whore, gup, now, gup ! 

Gup Guilliam Travillian!” 

With “Jaist you, I say, Julian! 

Will ye bear no coals?” 4 
A meiny 5 of mare-foals, 

That occupy 6 their holes, 

Full of pocky moles. 7 

What hear ye of Lancashire? 

They were not paid their hire; 

They are fell as any fire. 

What hear ye of Cheshire? 

They have laid all in the mire; 

x cue was half a farthing. a i.e. brothels. 

3 A Southwark brothel mentioned in Stow’s Survey . 
A Will ye not brook this insult? (being driven out).^ 

5 A set. # i.e. use (a reference to their profession). 

7 marks of the pox. ^ 



They grudged, and said 
Their wages were not paid; 

Some said they were afraid 
Of the Scottish host, - 
For all their crake and boast, 

Wild fire and thunder, 

For all this worldly wonder, 

A hundred mile assunder 

They were when they were next 1 - 

That is the true text. 

What hear ye of the Scots? 

They make us all sots, 

Popping foolish daws 2 ! 

They make us to peel straws ! 

They play their old pranks, 

After Huntly-banks: 

At the stream of Bannockburn 
They did us a shrewd turn. 

When Edward of Carnarvon ^ 

Lost all that his father won. 

What hear ye of the Lord D acres *? 
He maketh us Jack Rakers! 

He says we are but crakers ! 

He calleth us England men 
Strong-hearted like an hen! 

For the Scots and he 
Too well they do agree, 

With “Do thou for me, 

And I shall do for thee!” 

Whiles the Red Hat doth endure 
He maketh himself cocksure; 

The Red Hat with his lure 
Bringeth all things under cure . 4 


Nearest. 2 i.e. Jibbering idiots. 

3 T&e Warden of the West Marches. 4 care. 


But, as the world now goes y 
What hear ye of the Lord Rose x t 
Nothing to purpose. 

Not worth a cockly fose: 

Their hearts be in their hose! 

The Earl of Northumberland 
Dare take nothing on hand! 

Our barons be so bold 
In a mousehold they wold l 2 
Run away and creep ! 

Like a meiny of sheep. 

Dare not look out at dur 
For dread of the mastif cur, 3 
For dread of the butcher’s dog 
Would worry them like an hog! 

For, an this cur do gnar, 4 
They must stand all afar, 

To hold up their hand at the Bar. 

Fer all their noble blood 
He plucks them by the hood, 

And shakes them by the ear, 

And brings them in such fear! • 

He baiteth them like a bear, 

Like an ox or a bull. 

Their wits, he saith, are dull; 

He saith they have no brain 
Their estate 5 to maintain; 

And maketh them to bow their knee 
Before his majestie. 

Judges of the king’s laws. 

He counts them fools and daws; 

Sargeants of the Coif eke, 

He saith they are to seek 
In pleading of their case. 

l i.e. Lord Roos, Warden of the East Marches. 2 would. 

3 i.e. Wolsey; so in next line. 4 snarL 5 p8sition. 



At the Common Place , 1 
Or at the King’s Bench, 

He wringeth them such a wrench 
That all our learned men 
Dare not set their pen 
To plead a true triall 
Within Westminster Hall. 

In the Chancery, where he sits. 

But such as he admits. 

None so hardy to speak! 

He sayth, “Thou hoddipeke , 2 
Thy learning is too lewd , 3 
Thy tongue is not well-thewd 4 
To seek before our Grace!” 

And openly, in that place, 

He rages and he raves, 

And calls them “cankered knaves”! 
Thus royally he doth deal 
Under the king’s broad seal; 

And in the ’Chequer he them checks! 
In the Star Chamber he nods and becks, 
And beareth him there so stout 
That no man dare rowt 6 ! 

Duke, earl, baron, nor lord, 

But to his sentence must accord; 
Whether he be knight or squire, 

All men must follow his desire. 

What say ye of the Scottish king? 
That is another thing. 

He is but a youngling, 

A stalworthy stripling! 

There is a whisp’ring and a whipling 
He should be hither brought; 

But, an it were well sought, 

*i.e^ Pleas. ^blockhead. 3 too mean. 

4 well-mannered. 8 belch. 


I trow all will be nought! 

Not worth a shuttle-cock, 

Not worth a sour calstock 1 ! 

There goeth many a lie 
Of the Duke of Albany, 

That off should go his head, 

And brought in quick or dead. 

And all Scotland ours 

The mountenance of two hours. 

But, as some men sayn, 

I dread of some false train 
Subtily wrought shall be 
Under a feigned treatie. 

But, within months three, 

Men may haply see 

The treachery and the pranks 

Of the Scottish banks! 

What hear ye of Burgonions , 2 
the Spaniard's onions ? 

They have slain our Englishmen, 

Above threescore and ten: 

For all vour ami tie 

j # 

No better they agree ! 

God save my Lord Admiral! 

What hear ye of MutrelM 
Therewith I dare not mell ! 

Yet what hear ye tell 
Of our Grand Council ? 

I could say somewhat . 

But speak ye no more of that, 

Cabbage-stalk. 2 Burgundians. * 

3 Montreuil. Refers to the suspicion during the autumn of 1 522 
that a French fleet was gathering there to invade England. 



For drede of the Red Hat 
Take pepper in the nose , 1 - 
For then thine head off goes, 

Off by the hard arse! 

But there is some travarse 2 
Between some and some 
That maketh our sire to glum. 

It is somewhat wrong 
That his beard is so long! f 

He mourneth in black clothing. 

I pray God save the king! 

Wherever he go or ride 
I pray God be his guide! 

Thus will I conclude my style, 

And fall to rest a while, 

And so to rest a while. 

Once yet again 
Of you I would frazny 3 
Why come ye not to court ? 

To which court? 

To the king’s court, 

Or to Hampton Court? 

Nay^ to the king’s court l 
The king’s court 
Should have the excellence, 

But Hampton Court 
Hath the preeminence, 

And York’s Place , 4 
With my Lord’s Grace! 

To whose magnificence 
Is all the confluence, 

Suits and supplications, 

Tor fear that the Cardinal take offence. 

2 conference. 3 inquire. 

4 Wolsey’s palace as Archbishop of York in Whitehall. After 
his disgrace it became a royal residence, together with Hampton 
Court, wHcSl, at an earlier date, he himself gave to the king. 


Embassades of all nations. 

Straw for Law Canon, 

Or for the Law Common, 

Or for the Law Civil! 

It shall be as he will: 

Stop at Law Tancrete, 

An abstract or a concrete, 

Be it sour, be it sweet, 

His wisdom is so discreet 
That, in a fume or an heat, 

“Warden of the Fleet, 

Set him fast by the feet!” 

And of his royal power, 

When him list to lower. 

Then, “Have him to the Tower, 
Sans aulter remedy! 

Have him forth, by and by. 

To the Marshalsea, 

Or to the King’s Bench!” 

He diggeth so in the trench 
# Of the Court Royall 
That he ruleth them all! 

So he doth undermind, 1 
And such sleights doth find. 

That the king’s mind 
By him is subverted, 

And so straitly coarcted 
In credencing his tales 
That all is but nut-shales 
That any other saith - 
He hath in him such faith. 

Now, yet all this might be 
Suffered and taken in gre a 
If that that he wrought 
To any good end were brought: • 

^undermine. 2 taken kindly. • 

35 * 


But all he bringeth to nought, 
By God, that me dear bought! 
He beareth the king on hand 1 
That he must .poll his land 
To make his coffers rich; 

But he layeth all in the ditch. 
And useth such abusion 
That in the conclusion 
All cometh to confusion. 

Perceive ye the cause why? 
To tell the truth plainly, 

He is so ambitious. 

So shameless, and so vicious, 
And so superstitious, 

And so much oblivious 
From whence that he came 
That he falleth in a caeciam , - 
Which, truly to express, 

Is a forgetfulness, 

Or wilful blindness, r 

Wherewith the Sodomites 
Lost their inward sights: 

The Gomorrhians also 
Were brought to deadly woe. 
As Scripture recordis: 

A caecitate cordis , 2 
(In the Latin sing we) 

Libera nos y Dominel 

But this mad Amaleck, 
Like to a Mamelek , 3 
He regardeth lords 
No more than potshords 4 ! 

He is in such elation 
persuades the king. 

2 From blindness of heart. 

Deliver us, O Lord! 

3 Mameluke. 4 potsherds. 


Of his exaltation, 

And the supportation 
Of our Sovereign Lord, 

That, God to record. 

He ruleth all at will 
Without reason or skill ! 

Howbeit, the primordial 
Of his wretched original. 

And his base progeny, 

And his greasy genealogy. 

He came of the sang royall 

That was cast out of a butcher’s stall! 

But however he was bom, 

Men would have the less scorn 

If he could consider 

His birth and room 1 togider. 

And call to his mind 
How noble and how kind 
To him he hath found 
* Our Sovereign Lord, chief ground 
Of all this" prelacy, 

That set him nobly 
In great authority 
Out from a low degree. 

Which he cannot see: 

For he was, parde, 

No doctor of divinity. 

Nor doctor of the law, 

Nor of none other saw: 

But a poor maister of art! 

God wot, had little part 
Of the quatri vials, 

Nor yet of trivials, 2 

‘place, office. 

The two school courses of the time: (1) higher, (2) lower, i.e. 
(1) astrology, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music; ( 2 ) gramma^ 
rhetoric, logic. (See p. 265.) # 


Nor of philosophy* 

Nor of philology, 

Nor of good policy, 

Nor of astronomy, — 

Nor acquainted worth a fly 
With honourable Haly, 

Nor with royal Ptolemy, 

Nor with Albumazar, 

To treat of any star 
Fixed or else mobil. 

His Latin tongue doth hobbil, 

He doth but clout and cobbil 
In Tully’s faculty 
Called humanity! 

Yet proudly he dare pretend 
How no man can him amend. 
But have ye not heard this, - 
How a one-eyed man is 
Well-sighted when 
He is among blind men? 

Then, our process for to stable, 
This man was full unable 
* To reach to such degree 

Had not our Prince be 
Royal Henry the Eight, 

Taken him in such conceit 
That he set him on height, 

In exemplifying 

Great Alexander the king. 

In writing as we find 
Which (of his royal mind, 

And of his noble pleasure, 
Transcending out of measure) 
Thought to do a thing 
That pertaineth to a king — 

# To take up one of nought, 

• And made to him be brought 


A wretched poor man. 

Which his living wan 
With planting of leeks 
By the days and by the weeks; 

And of this poor vassal 
He made a king royal; 

And gave him a realm to rule 
That occupied a shule, 1 
A mattock, and a spade, 

Before that he was made 
A king, as I have told, 

And ruled as he wold. 

Such is a king’s power, - 
To make within an hour, 

And work such a miracle 
That shall be a spectacle 
Of renown and worldly fame. 

In likewise now the same 
Cardinal is promoted, 

Y et with lewd conditions coated. 

As hereafter be noted, - 
Presumption and vain glory. 

Envy, wrath, and lechery, 

Couvetise and gluttony. 

Slothful to do good, 

Now frantic, now stark wood 2 ! 

Should this man, of such mood, 

Rule the sword of might? 

How can he do right? 

For he will as soon smite 
His friend as his foe! 

A proverb long ago: 

Set up a wretch on high 
In a throne triumphantly, 

Make him a great estate, * 

x used a shovel. 2 mad- * 


And he will play check-mate 
With royal majesty, 

Count himself as good as he! 

A prelate potential 
To rule under Belial, 

As fierce and as cruel 
As the Fiend of hell! 

His servants meniall 
He doth revile and brail 
Like Mahound 1 in a play. 

No man dare him withsay: 

He hath despight and scorn 
At them that be well-born; 

He rebukes them and rails 
64 Ye whoresons! Ye vassails! 

Ye knaves! Ye churls’ sonnes! 

Ye ribalds, not worth two plummes! 
Ye rain-beaten beggers rejagged!” 
With “Stoop, thou havell! 

Run, thou javell ! 

Thou peevish pie pecked! 

Thou losell long-necked!” 

Thus, daily, they be decked, 
Taunted and checked, 

That they are so woe, 

They wot not whither to go ! 

No man dare come to the speech 
Of this gentle Jack-breech, 

Of what estate he be 
Of spiritual dignitie; 

Nor duke of high degree, 

Nor marquis, earl nor lord: 

Which shrewdly doth accord! 

Thus he, born so base, 

All noblemen should out-face, 

x Mahomet. 


His countenance like a kayser. 

“My Lord is not at leisure ! 

Sir, ye must tarry a stound, 1 
Till better leisure be found! 

And, sir, ye must dance attendance, 

And take patient sufferance, 

For my Lord’s Grace 
Hath now no time nor space 
To speak with you as yet!” 

And thus they shall sit. 

Chose them sit or flit, 

Stand, walk, or ride, 

And at his leisure abide. 

Perchance, half a year, 

And yet never the near 2 ! 

This dangerous dousipeer, 3 
Like a kinges peer ! 

And within this xvi. year 
£Ie would have been right fain 
To have been a chaplain, 

And have taken right great pain 
With a poor knight, 9 

Whatsoever he hight. 4 
The chief of his own counsel, 

They cannot well tell 

When they with him should mell, 

He is so fierce and fell ! 

He rails and he rates, 

He calleth them “doddipates 5 ”; 

*a moment. 2 i.e. nearer. 

8 noble - actually, one of the douze -pairs, the twelve equals, or 
peers, of Charlemagne. 

4 Sir Richard Nanfan, Deputy of Calais, whose chaplain Wolsey 
was, and who promised him his position as chaplajyi to King 
Henry VII. 

5 blockheads. • 

®Le, he #ill 


He grins and he gapes. 

As it were jackanapes! 

Such a mad bedleme 1 
For to rule this reame, 

It is a wondrous case! 

That the King’s Grace 
Is toward him so minded 
And so far blinded 
That he cannot perceive 
How he doth him deceive! 

I doubt lest by sorcery, 

Or such other loselry , 2 
As witch-craft, or charming. 

For he is the king’s darling, 

And his sweet heart-root! 

And is governed by this mad coot! 
For what is a man the better 
For the king’s letter? 

For he will tear it assunder 3 ! 
Whereat much I wonder 
How such a hoddipole 
So boldly dare control, 

And so malapertly withstand 
The king’s own hand, 

And set not by it a mite! 

He saith the king doth write 
And writeth he wotteth not what! 
And yet, for all that, 

The king his clemency 
Dispenseth with his demensy . 4 

Rut what His Grace doth think 
I have no pen nor ink 
That therewith can mell; 

But well I can tell 

2 villany. 

even tear up the king’s letters. 

4 madness. 


How Francis Petrarch, 

That much noble clerk, 

Writeth how Charlemagne 
Could not himself refrain. 

But was ravished with a rage 
Of a like dotage. 

But how that came about 
Read ye the story out, 

And ye shall find surely 
It was by necromancy, 

By carects 1 and conjuration 
Under a certain constellation, 

And a certain fumigation 
Under a stone on a gold ring, 

Wrought to Charlemagne the king; 

Which constrained him forcibly 
For to love a certain body 
Above all other inordinately. 

This is no fable nor no lie: 

At Aeon 2 it was brought to pass, 

As by mine author tried it was. 3 
But let my masters mathematical 
Tell you the rest! For me, they shall; 

They have the full intelligence, 

And dare use the experience, 

In their absolute conscience 
To practise such obsolete science: 

For I abhor to smatter 
Of one so devilish a matter. 

But I will make further relation 
Of this isagogical collation, 4 
How Maister Gaguin, the chronicler 
Of the feats of war 
That were done in France, 

Magical characters. 2 Aix la Chapell^ 

3 See Petrarch, Fam. Epist lib. 1. Ep. iii. 

4 i.e. comparison introduced. * 


Maketh remembrance 
How King Lewis, of late, 

Made up a great estate 1 
Of a poor wretched man, 

Whereof much care began. 

Johannes Balua was his name, 

Mine author writeth the same. 

Promoted was he 
To a cardinal’s dignitie, 

By Lewis the king aforesaid, 

With him so well apayed 2 
That he made him his chancellar 
To make all or to mar, 

And to rule as him list, 

Till he checked at the fist , 3 
And, against all reason, 

Committed open treason 
Against his lord sovereign: 

Wherefore he suffered pain, 

Was ’headed, drawen, and quartered, 

And died stinkingly martyred. 4 
Lo, yet for all that 
He wore a cardinal’s hat, 

In him was small faith, 

As mine author saith — 

Not for that I mean 

Such a casualty should be seen, 

Or such chance should fall 
Unto our cardinal! ! 

Almighty God, I trust, 

Hath for him discust 5 
That of force he must 
Be faithful, true, and just 
*a person of great estate. Satisfied. 

3 i.e. turned on the hand that fed him. 

This is # incorrect. Cardinal Balue was confined by order of 
Louis XI in an iron cage at the Castle of Loches for eleven years. 
'The rest of hif life he spent prosperously in Italy. determined. 


To our most royal king, 

Chief root of his making. 

Y et it is a wily mouse 

That can build his dwelling house 

Within the cat’s ear, 

Withouten dread or fear! 

It is a nice reckoning 
To put all the governing, 

All the rule of this land 
Into one man’s hand! 

One wise man’s head 
May stand somewhat in stead: 

But the wits of many wise 
Much better can devise. 

By their circumspection, 

And their sad 1 direction, 

To cause the common weal 
Long to endure in heal. 

Christ keep King Henry the Eight 
From treachery and deceit, 

And grant him grace to know 
The falcon from the crow, 

The wolf from the lamb, 

From whence that mastiff cam! 

Let him never confound 
The gentle greyhound! 

Of this matter the ground 
Is easy to expound, 

And soon may be perceived, 

How the world, is conveyed. 

But hark, my friend, one word 
In earnest or in hord % 1 
Tell me now, in this stead , 

Is Maister Meautis dead. 

The king’ s French secretary , 

And his untrue adversary ? 

x grave. 2 jest. * 


For he sent in writing 
To Francis , the French king , 

Of our maisteFs counsel in everything: 
That was a perilous reckoning! 

Nay, nay, he is not dead, 

But he was so pained in the head 
That he shall never eat more bread! 
Now he is gone to another stead 
With a bull under lead, 1 
By way of commission, 

To a strange jurisdiction 
Called Dimingis Dale, 

Far beyond Portingale, 

And hath his passport to pass 
Ultra SauromataSy 
To the devil, Sir Sathanas, 

To Pluto, and Sir Belial, 

The Devil’s vicar general, 

And to his college conventual, 

As well calodemonial 2 

j 0t 

As to cacodemonial, 3 
To purvey 4 for our cardinal 
A palace pontificial, 

To keep his court provincial, 

Upon articles judicial, 

To contend and to strive 
For his prerogative, 

Within that consistory 
To make summons peremptory 
Before some prothonotory 
Imperial or papal 

Upon this matter mystical 
I have told you part, but not all. 
Hereafter perchance I shall 
Make a larger memorial 


*le. a seal Consisting of good angels. 

®consfcting of bad angels. 'provide. 


And a further rehearsal, 

And more paper I think to blot, 

To the court why I came not: 

Desiring you above all thing 
To keep you from laughing 
When ye fall to reading 
Of this wanton scroll: 

And pray for Meautis’ soul, 

For he is well past and gone! 

That, would God, every one 

Of his affinitie 

Were gone as well as he! 

Amen, amen, say ye. 

Of your inward chari tie; 


Of your inward chari tie! 

It were great ruth, 1 
“For writing of truth, 

Any man should be 
In perplexitie 
Of displeasure: 

For I make you sure, 

Where truth is abhored 
It is a plain record 
That there wants grace; 

In whose place 
Doth occupy. 

Full ungraciously, 

False Flattery, 

False Treachery, 

False Bribery, 

Subtle Sim Sly, 

With mad Folly; 

F or who can best lie 
He is best set by. 

x pity. « 




Then farewell to thee, 
Wealthful Felicitie! 

For Prosperitie 
Away then will flee! 

Then must we agree 
With Povertie; 

For Misery 
With Penury 
And wretchedly 
Hath made ascry 
And outcry, 

Following the chase 
To drive away Grace. 

Y et sayest thou perchace, 1 
We can lack no grace! 

For my lord’s grace, 

And my lady’s grace, 

With trey, deuce, ace, 

And ace in the face, 

Some haut and some base, * r 
Some dance the trace 5 
Ever in one case: 

* Mark me that chase 4 

In the tennis play, 

For sink quater trey 
Is a tall man: 

He rode, but we ran! 

Hay, the gye and the gan fi ! 
The gray goose is no swan ! 
The waters wax wan, 

And beggars they ban, 

And they cursed Datan, 

perchance. 2 Egh • - . low. 3 path, track. 

4 i.e. Mark well that point. 

B the goose and the gander - a play on the words, referring to the 
dance hey defies. 


De tribu Dan, 

That this work began, 

Dal am et clam , 

With Baiak and Balam, 

The golden ram 
Of Fleming dam, 

Shem, Japhet, or Ham, 

But how come to pass 
Y our cupboard that was 
Is turned to glass? 

From silver to brass, 

From gold to pewter? 

Or else to a neuter. 

To copper, to tin, 

To lead, or alcumin? 

A goldsmith your mayor 1 ; 

But the chief of your fair 
Might stand now by potters, 

* And such as sell trotters, 

Pitchers, potshords! 

This shrewdly accords 

To be a cupboard for lords! # 

My lord now, and sir knight, 
Good-even and good-night! 

For now, Sir Tristram 2 
You must wear buckram, 

Or canvas of Caen, 

For silks are wane. 3 
Our royals 4 that shone, 

Our nobles 4 are gone 

d.e. Sir John Mundy, a member of the Goldsmiths’ Company, 
who became Lord Mayor of London on October 28th (the old 
Lord Mayor’s Day), 1522. 

2 i.e. any knight decreased. The coii»6 so called. 

The coil* so called. 


Among the Burgonions, 1 
And Spaniards’ onions, 

And the Flanderkins. 

Jill sweats, and Kate spins, 

They are happy that wins; 

But England may well say, 

“Fie on this winning alway! 

Now nothing but pay, pay!” 

With, “Laugh and lay down, 2 ” 
Borough, city, and town. 

Good Spring of Langham 
Must count what became 
Of his cloth-making: 

He is at such taking, 

Though his purse wax dull 
He must tax for his wull 8 
By nature of a new writ. 

My Lord’s Grace nameth it 
A quia non satisfaczt: 

In the spight of his teeth r 
He must pay again 
A thousand or twain 
Of his gold in store; 

And yet he paid before 
An hundred pound and more, 

Which pincheth him sore. 

My Lord’s Grace will bring 
Down this high spring. 

And bring it so low 
It shall not ever flow! 

Such a prelate, I trow. 

Were worthy to row 
Through the straits of Marock 4 

^Burgundians. A;.;; 

2 A punning allusion to the game of cards so called. 
3 i,e. pay tax for his wool. ‘Morocco. 


To the jibbet of Baldock! 

He would dry up the streams 
Of ix. kings’ reams, 

All rivers and wells, 

All waters that swells ! 

For with us he so mells, 

That within England dwells, 

I would he were somewhere else: 

For else by and by 
He will drink us so dry. 

And suck us so nigh, 

That men shall scantly 
Have penny or halfpenny. 

God save his noble Grace, 

And grant him a place 
Endless to dwell 
With the Devil of hell! 

For, an he were there, 

We need never fear 
Of the fiends blake 1 : 

For I undertake 
He would so brag and crake 
That he would then make 
The devils to quake, 

To shudder and to shake, 

Like a fire-drake, 2 
And with a coal-rake 
Bruise them on the brake, 8 
And bind them to a stake, 

And set all hell on fire 
At his own desire. 

He is such a grim sire. 

He is such a potestolate, 4 

And such a potestate, 5 

That he would break the brains 

a black. 2 dragon. 3 An engine of torture, 

fiegate. 5 chief magistrate. ^ 


Of Lucifer in his chains* 

And rule them each one 
In Lucifer’s throne. 

I would he were gone: 

F or among us is none 
That ruleth but he alone* 

Without all good reason* 

And all out of season: 

For F ulham peason 1 
With him be not geson 2 ! 

They grow very rank 
Upon every bank 
Of his herbers green, 

With my lady bright and sheen. 

On their game it is seen 
They play not all clean* 

An it be as I ween. 

But as touching discretion, 

With sober direction, 

He keepteh them in subjection. 

They can have no protection 
To rule nor to guide; 

But all must be tried, 

And abide the correction 
Of his wilful affection. 

For as for wit, 

The Devil speed wit! 

But brainsick and brainless, 

Witless and reckless, 

Careless and shameless, 

Thriftless and graceless, 

Together are bended , 3 
And so condescended , 4 
That the commonwealth 
Shall never have good health : 

2 rare. 3 banded. 4 agreed. 


But tattered and tugged. 

Ragged and rugged, 

Shaven and shorn, 

And all thread-bare worn. 

Such greediness, 

Such neediness, 


With wretchedness. 

Hath brought in distress 
And much heaviness 
And great dolour 
England, the floure 
Of relucent honour, 

In old commemoration 
Most royal English nation. 

Now all is out of fashion, 

Almost in desolation. 

I speak by protestation: 

God of his miseration 
Send better reformation! 

Lo, for to do shamefully 
He judgeth it no folly! ^ 

But to write of his shame 
He saith we are to blame. 

What a frenzy is this - 
No shame to do amiss, 

And yet he is ashamed 
To be shamefully named! 

And oft preachers be blamed 
Because they have proclaimed 
His madness by writing. 

His simpleness reciting, 

Remording and biting, 

With chiding and with flighting, 1 
Shewing him God’s laws: 

Scolding. ^ 


He calleth the preachers daws ! 
And of holy scripture’s saws 
He counteth them for gee-gaws, 
And putteth them to silence 
With words of violence, 

Like Pharaoh, void of grace, 

Did Moses sore menace, 

And Aaron sore he threat, 

The word of God to let 1 : 

This mawmet in like wise 
Against the Church doth rise. 

The preacher he doth dispise, 

With craking in such wise, 

So bragging all with boast, 

That no preacher almost 

Dare speak for his life 

Of my Lord’s Grace, nor his wife ! 

For he hath such a bull 

He may take whom he wull, 

And as many as him likes; 

May eat pigs in Lent for pikes, 
After the sects of heretics ! 

For in Lent he will eat 
All manner of flesh meat 
That he can anywhere gete; 

With other abusions great, 
Whereof for to treat 
It would make the Devil to sweat! 
For all privileged places 
He breaks and defaces ! 

All places of religion 
He hath them in derision ! 

And maketh such provision 
To drive them at division; 

And finally in conclusion 
To bring them to confusion. 


Saint Albans, to record, 

Whereof this ungracious lord 
Hath made himself abbot, 

Against their wills, God wot! 

All this he doth deal 

Under strength of the great seal, 

And by his legacy 1 : 

Which madly he doth apply 
Unto an extravagancy 
Picked out of all good law. 

With reasons that be raw. ‘ 

Yet, when he took first his hat, 

He said he knew what was what; 

All justice he pretended, 

All things should be amended, 

All wrongs he would redress. 

All injuries he would repress. 

All purjuries he would oppress! 
t And yet this graceless elf. 

He is purjured himself! 

As plainly it doth appear 
Who list to inquire 
In the registery 
Of my Lord of Canterbury, 

To whom he was professed 
In three points expressed: 

The first, to do him reverence: 

The second, to owe obedience: 

The third, with whole affection 
To be under his subjection. 

But now he maketh objection. 

Under the protection 
Of the king’s great seal, 

That he setteth never a deal 
By his former oath, 

Negative power. 


Whether God be pleased or wroth ! 

He maketh so proud pretence, 

That in his equipolens 
He judgeth him equivalent 
To God omnipotent! 

But yet beware the rod, 

And the stroke of God! 

The apostle Peter 
Had a poor mitre 
And a poor cope 
When he was create Pope, 

First in Antioche. 

He did never approach 
Of Rome to the See 
With such dignitie. 

Saint Dunstan, what was he? 
Nothing, he saith, like to me! 

There is a diversitie 
Between him and me: ^ 

We pass him in degree, 

As legatus a latere ! 

Ecce, sacerdos magnus , 1 
That will ’head us and hang us, 

And straightly strangle us 
An he may fang 2 us ! 

Decree and decretal, 

Constitution provincial, 

Nor no law canonical, 

Shall let the priest pontifical 
To sit in causa sanguinis . 

Now God amend what is amiss! 

For I suppose that he is 
Of Jeremy the whisking rod, 

9 The flail, the scourge of Almighty God. 

1 Behold the great priest. ^atch hold of. 

1' i't i i is 1 Is i 


This Naaman Sirus, 1 
So fell and irous, 2 
So full of melancholy, 

With a flap afore his eye, 

Men ween that he is poxy, 3 
Or else his surgeons they lie 
For, as far as they can spy 
By the craft of surgery 
It is manus Domini ! 

And yet this proud Antiochus, 

He is so ambitious. 

So elate, and so vicious, 

And so cruel-hearted, 

That he will not be converted: 

For he setteth God apart! 

He is now so overthwart, 

And so pained with pangs, 

That all his trust hangs 
In Balthasar, 4 which healed 
Domingo’s nose that was wealed: 

That Lombard’s nose mean I 
That standeth yet awry; 

It was not healed alderbest, 5 
It standeth somewhat on the west! 

I mean Domingo Lomelin 
That was wont to win 
Much money of the king 
At the cards and hasarding: 

Balthasar, that healed Domingo’s nose 
From the pustuled poxy pose, 

Now with his gums of Araby 

Hath promised to heal our cardinal’s eye. 

fi.e. the Syrian. 2 So fierce and irate. 

a This was one of the charges afterwards brought against Wolsey 
in Parliament. j • 

4 Balthasar de G nereis, surgeon to Catherine of Arragon. 
thoroughly. ^ 


Yet some surgeons put a doubt 
Lest he will put it clean out. 

And make him lame of his nether limbs: 
God send him sorrow for his sins! 

Some men might ask a question, 

By whose suggestion 
I took on hand this wark, 

Thus boldly for to bark? 

And, men, list to hark, 

And my words mark, 

I will answer like a clerk: - 
For, truly and unfeigned, 

I am forcibly constrained 
At Juvenal’s request 
To write of this glorious geste, 

Of this vain-glorious beast, 

His fame to be increased 
At every solemn feast; 

Quza difficile est 
Satiram non s crib ere x ! 

Now, master doctor, how say ye? 
Whatsoever your name be, 

What though ye be nameless, 

Y e shall not escape blameless, 

Nor yet shall ’scape shameless! 

Maister doctor, in your degree. 

Yourself madly ye over-see! 

Blame Juvenal, and blame not me! 
Maister doctor Diricum, 

Omne animi vitium , etc. 2 - 
As Juvenal doth record, 

A small default in a great lord, 

A little crime in a great estate, 

Is much more inordinate. 

1M Because it is difficult not to write satire ” (Juvenal, Sat. i. 30). 
^ Every rice of the soul . (Juvenal. Sat. viii. 140). 


And more horrible to behold, 

Than any other a thousand fold. 

Y e put to blame ye wot ne’er whom ! 
Ye may wear a cock’s-comb! 

Your fond head in your furred hood! 
Hold ye your tongue, ye can no good ! 
And at more convenient time 
I may fortune for to rime 
Somewhat of your madness; 

For small is your sadness 
To put any man in lack , 1 
And say ill behind his back. 

And my words mark truly. 

That ye cannot bide thereby, 

For smigma non est sinamonum^ 

But de absentibus nil nisi bonum . 
Complain, or do what ye will, 

Of your complaint it shall not skill: 

This is the tenor of my bill, 

A dawcock ye be, and so shall be still ! 



Honorificatissimo , amplissimo, longeque reverendissimo in 
Christo pairi, ac Domino , domino Thom ce, etc., tituli sanctae 
Ceciliae , sacrosanctae Romanae ecclesiae presbytero , Cardinali 
meritissimo , ei apostolicae sedis legato, a latereque legato 
superillustri, etc., Skeltonis laureatus , or. reg., humillimum 
dicit obsequium cum omni debit a reverentia, tanto tamque 
magnifico digna principe sacer datum, totiusque justitiae aequa- 
bilissimo moderatore, necnon praesentis opusculi fautore 
excellentissimo, etc., ad cujus auspicatissimam contemplatio 7 iem , 
sub memorabili prelo gloriosae immortalitatis, praesens pagella 
felicitatur, etc . 1 

A Replication Against Certain Young 
Scholars Abjured of Late 2 


Crassantes nimium, nimium sterilesque labruscas. 

Vine a quas Domini Sabaot non sustinet ultra 
Laxius expandi, nostra est resecare voluntas . 3 

To the most honourable, most mighty, and Jby far the most 
reverend father in Christ and in the Lord, Lord Thomas, etc., of the 
title of the sacred Cecilian, presbyter of the Holy Roman Church, 
the most deserving cardinal, Legate of the Apostolic See, and the 
most illustrious legate a latere , etc., Skelton Laureate, ora . reg., de- 
clares humble allegiance with all fit reverence due to such a great 
and magnificent Chief of Priests, most equitable moderator of all 
justice, and moreover the most excellent patron of the present little 
book, etc., to whose most auspicious judgement [or at whose most 
auspicious contemplation, i.e. command], under the memorable 
seal[?] of a glorious immortality, the present little treatise is com- 
mended [or devised - see L’envoy]. 

®Friedrich Brie ( Skelton-Studieri ) has shewn that tyro young 
scholars, Thomas Bilney and Thomas Arthur, were abjured on 
December 8th, 1 527, and that there is every reason for supposing 
that the following refers to them. This places the Replication as 
Skelton’s last known poem. 

The too sour, and too unfruitful, wild grapes, which the vine- 
yard of the Lord Sabaoth does not suffer to flourish more luxu- 
riously, it is our desire to cut down, 




Cum privilegio a rege indulto . 1 

Protestation alway canonically prepensed, professed, and 
with good deliberation made, that this little pamphlet, called 
The Replication of Skelton Laureate, ora. reg ., remording 
divers recrayed 2 and much unreasonable errors of certain 
sophisticate scholars and reckless young heretics lately ab- 
jured, etc., shall evermore be, with all obsequious readiness, 
humbly submitted unto the right discreet reformation of the 
reverend prelates and much noble doctors of our Mother 
Holy Church, etc. 

Ad almam Universitatem Cantabrigensem . 3 


Alma parens, 0 Cantabrigensis , 

Cur lacrymaris ? Esto, tui sint 
Degeneres hi filioli, sed 
Non ob inertes, O pia mater , 

Insciolos v el decolor esto. 

Progenies non nobilis omnis, 

Quam tua forsan mamma fovebat. » 

Tu tamen esto Palladis almae 
Gloria pollens plena Miner 
Dum radiabunt astra polorum: 

Jamque valet o y meque foveto, 

Namque tibi quondam carus alumnus eram . 5 

With the privilege conceded by the king. 2 recreant. 

®To the bountiful University of Cambridge. 

4 Eulogy*of Consolation. 

5 Bountiful mother, O Cambridge, why dost thou weep? [or why 
art thou wept for?] So be it, let these little sons of thine be de- 
generate . . . [?] All the ignoble progeny which perchance your 
breasts have suckled. But be thou the full blooming glory of 
Pallas Minerva, so long as the stars of the poles shall shine. And 
now farewell, and look kindly upon me, for I was once your dear 
nursling. 1 


How young scholars nowadays enbolned 1 with the fly- 
blown blast of the much vain-glorious pippling wind, when 
they have delectably licked a litde of the licorous electuary of 
lusty 2 learning, in the much studious school-house of scru- 
pulous Philology, counting themselves clerks excellently 
informed and transcend! ngly sped 3 in much high conning, 
and when they have once superciliously caught 

A little rag of rhetoric, 

A less lump of logic, * 

A piece or a patch of philosophy, 

Then forthwith by and by 
They tumble so in theology, 

Drowned in dregs of divinity, 

That they judge them self able to be 
Doctors of the chair in the Vintrie 
At the Three Cranes, 4 
To magnify their names! 

But madly it frames, 

For all that they preach and teach 
Is further than their wit will reach: 

Thus by demerits of their abusion, 

Finally they fall to careful confusion 
* To bear a fagot, or to be enflamed 5 : 

Thus are they undone and utterly shamed. 


Licet non enclitice , 

Tamen enthymematice , 

Notandum imprimis , 
lit ne quid nimis. 

Tantum pro primo. 6 

Over this, for a more ample process to be further related 
and continued, and of every true Christenman laudably to 

x pu£Fed up. 2 pleasant. 3 versed. 4 tavern so called. 5 burned. 

Therefore: ... It must be noted in the first place that 
nothing may be in excess. So much for the first, or in the first place. 



be employed, justified and constantly maintained; as touch- 
ing the sour theologisation of these demi divines, and Stoical 
students, and friskajolly younkerkins, much better bained 1 
than brained, basked and bathed in their wild burbling and 
boiling blood, fervently reboiled with the infatuate flames 
of their reckless youth and witless wantonness, embraced and 
interlaced with a much fantastical frenzy of their insensate 
sensuality, surmised unsurely in their periermenial prin- 
ciples, to prate and to preach proudly and lewdly, and loudly 
to he; and yet they were but feebly informed in Master 
Porphiry’s problems, and have waded but weakly in his three 
manner of clerkly works, analytical, topical, and logical: 
howbeit they were puffed so full of vain-glorious pomp and 
arrogant elation, that popeholy and peevish presumption 
provoked them to publish and to preach to people imprudent 
perilously, how it was idolatry to offer to images of our 
Blessed Lady, or to pray and go on pilgrimages, or to make 
oblations to any images of saints in churches or elsewhere. 

Against which erroneous errors, odious, orgulous,® and 
fly-blown opinions, etc., 

To the honour of our Blessed Lady, 

And her most Blessed Baby, 

I purpose for to reply 

Against this horrible heresy 

Of these young heretics, that stink unbrent , 3 

Whom I now summon and convent; 

That lewdly have their time spent 
In their study abominable. 

Our glorious Lady to disable, 
m And heinously on her to babble 
With language detestable! 

With your lips polluted 
Against Her Grace disputed. 

Which is the most clear crystal 

Of all pure cleanness virginal, m 

1 boned. 

2 insolent. 

3 unburnt# 


That our Saviour bear, 

Which us redeemed from care, 

I say, thou mad March hare, 

I wonder how ye dare 
Open your jangling jaws 
To preach in any clause, 

Like prating popping daws. 

Against her excellence, 

Against her reverence, 

Against her pre-eminence, 

Against her magnificence, 

That never did offence. 

Y e heretics recrayed , 1 
Wot ye what ye said 
Of Mary, mother and maid? 

With bawdry at her ye brayed ! 

With bawdy words unmeet 
Your tongues were too fleet; 

Your sermon was not sweet; r 
Y e were nothing discreet; 

Y e were in a drunken heat! 

Like heretics confettered, 

Ye count yourselves well-lettered! 
Your learning is stark nought, 

For shamefully ye have wrought. 

And to shame yourselves have brought. 

Because ye her misnamed, 

And would have her defamed. 

Your madness she attamed; r 

For ye were worldly shamed 
At Paul’s Cross openly, 

All men can testify. 

There, like a sort 2 of sots, 

Ye were fain to bear faggots; 

Recreant. 2 set. 


3 gl 

At the feast of her Conception 
Ye suffered such correction. 

Sive per aequkiocum , 1 
Sive per univocum , 2 
Sive sic , sive not so , 3 
Ye were brought to, Lo, lo, lo! 

See where the heretics go, 

Witless, wandering to and fro ! 

With Te he, ta ha, bo ho, bo ho! 

And such wanderings many mo. 

Helas, ye wretches, ye may be woe! 

Ye may sing well-a-way, 

And curse both night and day 
When ye were bred and born. 

And when ye were priestes shorn. 

Thus to be laughed to scorn, 

Thus tattered and thus torn! 

Thorough your own folly 
Ye be bio wen with the fly 
Of horrible heresy! 

Fain ye were to reny , 4 

And mercy for to cry, • 

Or be burnt by and by, 

Confessing how ye did lie 
In preaching shamefully. 

Y ourselves thus ye discured 5 
As clerks unassured, 

With ignorance obscured! 

® Ye are unhappily vred . 6 
In your dialetical. 

And principles syllogistical, 

If ye to remembrance call 

^Either through, the equivocal. 2 Or through the ui*equivocaL 
3 Or so or not so. denounce. ^discovered. 

''o':'. 6 ill-fbrtuned. -V; ^ v, m : ; , 


How syllogisari 
Non est ex particularly 
Neque negativis , 

Rede concludere si vis , 

Et caeiera , id genus . 1 
Ye could not corde tenus , 2 
Nor answer verbo tenus , 3 
When prelacy you opposed; 

Your heartes then were hosed, 4 * 

Your relations reposed; 

And yet ye supposed 
Respondere ad quantum . 5 - 
But ye were confuse tantum : , 6 
Surrendering your suppositions, 

For there ye missed your cushions. 

Would God, for your own ease, 

That wise Harpocrates 7 
Had your mouthes stopped, 

And your tongues cropped, 

When ye logic chopped, 

And in the pulpit hopped, 

And foolishly there fopped, 

And porishly forth popped 
Y our schismaticate saws 
Against Goddes laws, 

And shewed yourselves daws 8 ! 

Y e argued argumentes, 

As it were upon the elenkes, 9 
De rebus apparentibus 10 

*How to syllogise, it is not from the particular, nor from nega- 
tives, if you want to conclude rightly, etc., in a case like this. 

®in your heart {or as far as the heart). 

3 in your name (or as far as the word). 4 in your hose. 

5 to giro your opinion so much. 6 so much confounded. 

7 Egyptian God of Silence. simpletons. 

*elenchus^ i.e. in logic. 10 concerning apparent things. 


3 8 3 

Et non exist entibus 1 ; 

And ye would appear wise. 

But ye were foolish nice 2 ! 

Yet by means of that ’vice 3 
Ye did provoke and ’tice, 

Oftener than once or twice, 

Many a good man 
And many a good woman. 

By way of their devotion 
To help you to promotion, 

Whose charity well regarded 
Cannot be unrewarded. 

I say it for no sedition, 

But under patient tuition - 
It is half a superstition 
To give you exhibition 4 
To maintain with your schools, 

And to prove yourselves such fools! 

Some of you had ten pound, 
Therewith for to be found 5 
At the university, 

Employed which might have be 
Much better other ways. 

But, as the man says, 

The blind eateth many a fly! 

What may be meant hereby 
Ye may soon make construction 
With right little instruction; 

For it is an ancient bruit , 6 
* Such apple-tree, such fruit. 

What should I prosecute, 

Or more of this to clatter? 

Return we to our matter. 

And non-existent, 2 i.e. altogether foolish. device. 
4 A scholarship. Maintained. ®s^ing. 


Y e soared over-high 
In the hierarchy 
Of Jovenian’s heresy, 

Your names to magnify, 

Among the scabbed skies 4 
Of Wyclifs flesh-flies; 

Ye stringed so Luther’s lute 
That ye dance all in a suit 
The heretics’ ragged ray , 2 
That brings you out of the way 
Of Holy Church’s lay/ 

Y e shail inter enigmata 4 
And inter paradigmata , B 
Marked in your cradles 
To bear faggots for baubles.* 

And yet some men say 
How ye are this day, 

And be now as ill. 

And so ye will be still, ^ 

As ye were before. 

What should I reckon more? 

Men have you in suspicion 
How ye have small contrition 
Of that ye have mis wrought. 

For, if it were well sought, 

One of you there was 
That laughed when he did pass 
With his faggot in procession! 

He counted it for no correction, 

But with scornful affection 
Took it for a sport. 

His heresy to support! 

Whereat a thousand gazed 
As people half-amazed, 

2 A dance. 3 law. 4 stumble among riddles 

5 among paradigms. 


And thought in him small grace 
His folly so to face . 1 

Some judged in this case 
Y our penance took no place, 

Your penance was too light; 

And thought, if ye had right, 

Y e should take further pain 
To resort again 

To places where ye have preached, 
And your lollardy 2 learning teached. 
And there to make relation 
In open prediction, 

And ’knowledge your offence 
Before open audience, — 

How falsely ye had surmised, 

And devilishly devised 
The people to seduce, 

And chase them through the mews 3 
Of your naughty counsell, 

To hunt them into hell 
With blowing out your horns, 

F ull of mockish scorns, 

With chating and rechating , 4 
And your busy prating! 

Of the gospel and the epistles 
Ye pick out many thistles. 

And brimly 5 with your bristles 
Ye cobble and ye clout 
Holy Scripture so about 

• That people are in great doubt 
And fear lest they be out 
Of all good Christian order. 

Thus all thing ye disorder 
Throughout every border. 

*vaunt. heretical. 3 alley, side-track 

4 sound the retreat in hunting. 5 fiercely. 


It had been much better 
Ye had never learned a letter, 
For your ignorance is greater 
(I make you fast and sure) 
Than all your literature. 

Y e are but lither logici y 1 
But much worse isagogici , 

For ye have induced a sect 
With heresy all infect. 
Wherefore ye are well checked, 
And by Holy Church correct, 
And in manner as abject. 

For evermore suspect, 

And banished in effect 
F rom all honest company, 
Because ye have eaten a fly, 

To your great villany, 

That never more may die! 

Come forth, ye popeholy, 

Full of melancholy! 

Y our mad hypocrisy, 

And your idiocy, 

And your vain-glory, 

Have made you eat the fly, 

Puffed full of heresy. 

To preach it idolatry 
Whoso doth magnify 
That glorious maid Mary; 

That glorious maid and mother, 

So was there never another 
But that princess alone, 

To whom we are bound, each one, 
The image of her grace 
To reverence in every place. 

*bad logicians. 



I say, ye brainless beasts, 

Why jangle you such jests? 

In your divinity 
Of Luther’s affinity! 

To the people of lay fee 1 
Railing in your rages 
To worship none images, 

Nor do pilgrimages! 

I say, ye devilish pages, 

Full of such dotages. 

Count ye yourselves good clerks, 
And snapper 2 in such works? 

Saint Gregory and Saint Ambrose, 
Ye have read them, I suppose? 

Saint Jerome and Saint Austen, 

With other many holy men? 

Saint Thomas de Aquino, 

With other doctors many mo, 

Which de l atria 3 do treat? 

They say how latria is an honour great 
Belonging to the Deity: 

To this ye needs must agree. 

But, I trow, yourselves ye oversee 4 
What ’longeth to Christ’s humanitie! 

If ye have read de hyper dulia^ 

Then ye know what betokeneth dulta . 5 
Then shall ye find it firm and stable, 

And to our faith much agreeable 
* To worship images of saints. 

Wherefore make ye no more restraints, 

*laity. S stumble. 3 of worship. 4 overlook. 

6 i.e. If you have read of the very great adoration accorded to the 
Virgin — kyperdulia - then you know what worship is due to the 
Saints — dulia. % 


But mend your minds that are mazed; 

Or else doubtless ye shall be blazed, 

And be burnt at a stake, 1 
If further business that ye make. 

Therefore I Vise you to forsake 
Of heresy the devilish schools. 

And cry Godmercy, like frantic fools! 

Tantum pro secundo . 2 r 


Audite , viri Ismaelitae, non dico Israelitae; 

Audite , inquam , viri Madianitae, Ascalonitae ; 
Ammonitae , Gabaonitae, audite verba que loquar . 4 

Opus evangelii est cibus perfect or um ; 

Sed quia non estis de genere honor um, 

Qui caterisatis categorias cacodaemoniorum , 



Ei reliqua vestra problemata , schemata. 

Dilemmata, sinto a?iathematal 
Ineluctabile argwnentum est, 5 

^ilney was burnt in 1531, two years after Skelton’s death. 

*So much for the second, or in the second place. 

The peroration against certain recently abjured hypothetical 

4 Hear, men of Ishmael, I do not say Israel; r 

Hear, say I, men of Madian, of Askalon, 

Of Ammon, of Gabion, hear the words I shall speak. 

The Book of the Gospel is the food of the perfect; but, because 
you are not from the race of the good, you who “caterise” [make 
improper use of (?)] the categories of the inspired, therefore also 
the rest of your problems, schemes, dilemmas, may they be ana- 
thema! It is inescapable argument. 



A confutation responsive, or an inevitably prepensed 
answer to all wayward or froward altercations that can or 
may be made or objected against Skelton Laureate, devisor 
of this Replication, etc. 

Why fall ye at debate 
With Skelton Laureate, 

Reputing him unable 
To gainsay replicable 
Opinions detestable 
Of heresy execrable? 

Y e say that poetry 
May not fly so high 
In theology, 

Nor analogy, 

Nor philology, 

Nor philosophy, 

To answer or reply 
• Against such heresy? 

Wherefore by and by, 

Now consequently, * 

I call to this reckoning 
David, that royal king, 

Whom Hieronimous, 

That doctor glorious, 

Doth both write and call 
Poet of poets all, 

And prophet principal. 


This may not be remorded, 

For it is well recorded 
In his epistle ad Paulinum , 

Presbyterium divinum , 1 

^hich is prefixed to the Yulgate. (See Hieronym, Opera i. 
xoir, ed. 1609.) 9 


Where word for word ye may 
Read what Jerome there doth say. 

David , inquit, Simonides nosier, Pindarus, et Alcaus , Flaccus 
quoque, Catullus, atque Serenus, Christum lyra personat , et 
in decachordo psalterio ah inferis excitat resurgentem. Haec 


King David the prophet, of prophets principal. 

Of poets chief poet, Saint Jerome doth write. 

Resembled to Simonides, that poet lyrical 
Among the Greeks most relucent of light, 

In that faculty which shined as Phoebus bright: 

Like to Pindarus in glorious poetry, 

Like unto Alcheus, he doth him magnify. 

Flaccus nor Catullus with him may not compare, 

Nor solemn Serenus, for all his harmony 
In metrical muses, his harping we may spare; 

For David, our poet, harped so melodiously 
Of our Saviour Christ in his decachord psaltry, 

That af his resurrection he harped out of hell 

Old patriarchs and prophets in heaven with him to dwell. 

Return we to our former process. 

Then, if this noble king 
Thus can harp and sing 
With his harp of prophesy 
And spiritual poetry. 

As Saint Jerome saith, 

To whom we must give faith, 

Warbling with his strings 
Of such theological things, 

Why have ye then disdain 
* At poets, and complain 
• How poets do but feign? 



Ye do much great outrage 
For to disparage 
And to discourage 
The fame matriculate 
Of poets laureate. 

For if ye sadly 1 look, 

And wisely read the Book 
Of Good Advertisement y 2 
With me ye must consent 
And infallibly agree 
Of necessity, 

How there is a spiritual, 

And a mysterial, 

And a mystical 
Effect energial, 

As Greeks do it call, 

Of such an industry; 

And such a pregnancy. 

Of heavenly inspiration 
In laureate creation, 

Of poets commendation. 

That of divine miseration 
God maketh his habitation 
In poets which excells, 

And sojourns with them and dwells. 

By whose inflammation 
Of spiritual instigation 
And divine inspiration 
We are kindled in such fashion 
With heat of the Holy Ghost 
(Which is God of mightes most), 

That he our pen doth lead, 

And maketh in us such speed 
That forthwith we must need 
With pen and ink proceed, % 

Seriously. 2 One of Skelton’s lost p$>ems. 

39 1 


Sometime for affection. 

Sometime for sad direction. 

Sometime for correction. 

Sometime under protection 
Of patient sufferance, 

With sober circumstance, 

Our mindes to advance 
To no man’s annoyance. 

Therefore no grievance, ^ 

I pray you, for to take 
In this that I do make 
Against these frenetics, 

Against these lunatics, 

Against these schismatics, 

Against these heretics, 

Now of late abjured, 

Most unhappily vred: 

For be ye well-assur6d 
That frenzy, nor jealously. 

Nor heresy will never die. 


iniquisy Nolite mique agere ; et delinquentibus, Nolite exaltare 
• cornu . 1 

Tantumpro tertio . 2 

De raritate poetarum , deque gymnosophistarum, philosophorum, 
iheologorum.) caeterorumque, eruditorum mfinitanumeroshate> 
SkeL L. epitoma. z 

Sunt infinitiy sunt innumerique sophistae, 

Sunt infinitiy sunt innumerique logistae y * 

*1 said to the wicked, Be not stubborn; and to evil-doers, Rejoice 
not in your strength. 

2 So much for the third, or in the third place. 

3 About the rarity of poets, and the infinite abundance of gymno- 
sophists, philosophers, theologians, and the rest of the learned, this 
is Skelton Laiyreate’s epitome. 



Innumeri sunt philosophic sunt thsologique > 
Sunt infiniti doctores , suntque magistri 
Innumeri; sed sunt pauci rarique poeiae . 

Hinc omne est rarum carum: re or ergo poet as 
Ante alios omnes divino flamine fiatos. 

Sic Plato divinat y divinat sicque Socrates; 

Sic magnus Mace do, sic Casar, maximus her os 
Romanus y celehres semper coluere poet as . 1 

Thus endeth the Replication 
of Skelton Laureate. 

To My Lord Cardinals Right Nohle Grace , etc. 

Go, little quaire , 2 apace, 

In most humble wise, 

Before his noble grace, 

* That caused you to devise 
This little enterprise; 

And him most lowly pray, 

In his mind to comprise • 

Those words his grace did say 
Of an amice gray . 3 

Jefoy enter ment 4 en sa bone grace . 

^Infinite, innumerable are the sophists, infinite, innumerable are 
the logicians, innumerable are the philosophers and the theologians, 
infinite in number are doctors, and masters; but poets are few and 
rare. Hence all that is rare is dear: I think, then, that poets before 
all others are filled with the divine breath. So Plato thinks and so 
Socrates; so the great Macedonian, so Csesar, the greatest of Roman 
heroes, always honoured the renowned poets. 

2 book. ■y;-' ■ y'.'..; y;', V 

*Does this mean that Skelton still had hopes of preferment from 
the , Cardinal? 

4 i.e. Je fie entierementy etc. • 

A Right Delectable Treatise upon a Goodly 


By Maister Skelton , Poet Laureate , Studiously Devised at 
Sherrijf -Hutton Castle , in the Forest of Galtres 3 wherein 
are comprised many and divers salacious and right pregnant 
electuaries of smgular pleasure , as more at large it doth 
appear in the process following , . 

Eterno mansura die dum sidera fulgent 3 
Aequora dumque iument 3 haec laurea nostra virebit: 

Hinc nostrum celebre et nomen referetur ad astra y 
TJndique Skeltonis memorabitur alter Adonis . 1 

Erecting my sight toward the zodiac. 

The signs xii. for to behold afar, 

When Mars # retrogradant reversed his back, 

Lord of the year in his orbicular, 

Put up his sword, for he could make no war, 

And when Lucina plenarly did shine, * 

Scorpione ascending degrees twice nine; 

In place alone then musing in my thought 
■ft How all thing passeth as doth the summer flower. 

On every half 2 my reasons forth I sought, 

How often fortune varieth in an hour, 

Now clear weather, forthwith a stormy shower; 

All thing compassed, no perpetuity, 

But now in wealth, now in adversity, 

1 While the stars shine with eternal day, and while the seas swell, 
these our laurels shall be green; our illustrious name shall be trans- 
lated to the sky, and everywhere shall Skelton be renowned as 
another Adonis. 

*side. • 


So deeply drowned I was in this dump, 

Encrampished 1 so sore was my conceit, 

That, me to rest, I leant me to a stump 

Of an oak, that sometime grew full straight, 

A mighty tree and of a noble height. 

Whose beauty blasted was with the boisterous wind, 

His leaves lost, the sap was from the rind. 

Thus stood I in the frithy 2 forest of Galtress, 

Ensoaked with silt of the miry moss, 

Where hartes bellowing, embosed 3 with distress, 

Ran on the range so long, that I suppose 
Few men can tell now where the hind-calf goes; 

Fair fall that forster 4 that so well can bait his hound! 

But of my purpose now turn we to the ground. 

Whiles I stood musing in this meditation, 

In slumbering I fell and half in a sleep; 

And whether it were of imagination, 

Or of humours superflue, that often wilhcreep 
Into the brain by drinking over-deep, 

Or it proceeded of fatal persuasion, 

I cannot well tell you what was the occasion. 

But suddenly at once, as I me advisdd, 

As one in a trance or in an ecstasy, 

I saw a pavilion wondrously disguised, § 

Garnished fresh after my fantasy, 

Entached 5 with pearl and stones preciously, 

The ground engrosed and bet with bourne 6 gold^ 

That passing goodly it was to behold. 

Within it, a princess excellent of port; 

But to recount her rich habiliment, 

Tncramped. 2 woody. 3 foaming at the mouth. 4 forester. 
s Inlaid. ^ 6 ground-work enriched , . . beaten . . . burnished. 




And what estates to her did resort. 

Thereto am I full insufficient; 

A goddess immortal she did represent; 

As I heard say, Dame Pallas was her name; 

To whom supplied 1 the royal Queen of Fame. 

The Queen of Fame to Dame Pallas 

Princess most puissant, of high pre-eminence. 
Renowned lady above the starry heaven. 

All other transcending, of every congruence 
Madame regent of the sciences seven, 

To whose estate all nobleness must leanen , 2 
My supplication to you I erect, 

Whereof I beseech you to tender the effect. 

Not unremembered it is unto your grace 
How you gave me a royal commandment 
That in*my court Skelton should have a place, 
Because that his time he studiously hath spent 
In your service; and, to the accomplishment 
Of your requests, registered in his name „ 

With laureate triumph in the court of Fame. 

But, good madam, the accustom and usage 
Of ancient poets, ye wot full well, hath been 
Themself to embusy with all their whole corage , 3 
So that their workis might famously be seen, 

In figure whereof they wear the laurel green; 

But how it is, Skelton is wondrous slack, 

And, as we dare, we find in him great lack 4 : 

For, ne were 5 only he hath your promotion, 

Out of my bookis full soon I should him raje; 

1 prayed. 2 bow. 3 heart. 4 fault. 5 ^ere it not. 


But sith he hath tasted of the sugared potion 
Of Helicon’s well, refreshed with your grace, 
And will not endeavour himself to purchace 
The favour of ladies with wordes elect. 

It is fitting that ye must him correct. 

Dame Pallas to the Queen of Fame 

The sum of your purpose, as we are advised, 

Is that our servant is somewhat too dull 5 
Wherein this answer for him we have comprised, 
How rivers run not till the spring be full; 

Better a dumb mouth than a brainless skull; 

For if he gloriously polish his matter, 

Then men will say how he doth but flatter; 

And if so him fortune to write true and plain, 

As sometime he must vices remord, 1 
Then some will say he hath but little brain, 

And how his words with reason will not accord; 
Beware, for writing remaineth of record; 
Displease not an hundred for one man’s pleasure; 
Who writeth wisely hath a great treasure. 

Also, to furnish better his excuse, 

Ovid was banished for such a skill, 

And many more whom I could induce; 

Juvenal was threat, parde, for to kill 2 
For certain invectives, yet wrote he none ill, 
Saving he rubbed some upon the gall; 

It was not for him to abide the triall. 

In general words, I say not greatly nay, 

A poet sometime may for his pleasure taunt, 
Speaking in parables, how the fox, the gray, 3 
The gander, the goose, and the huge elephant, 
W^ent with the peacock against the pheasant; 

flDlame. *i.e. for to be killed. 3 badger. 


The leopard came leaping, and said that he must, 
With help of the ram, lay all in the dust. 

Yet divers there be, industrious of reason. 
Somewhat would gather in their conjecture 
Of such an endarked chapiter some season; 
Howbeit, it were hard to construe this lecture 
Sophisticated craftily is many a confecture 1 ; 
Another man’s mind difuse 2 is to expound; 

Yet hard is to make 3 but some fault be found. 

The Queen of Fame to Dame Pallas 

Madam, with favour of your benign sufferance, 
Unto your grace then make I this motive 4 : 
Whereto made ye me him to advance 
Unto the room of laureate promotive? 

Or whereto should he have that prerogative, 
But if he had made some memorial 
Whereby he might have a name immortal? 

To pass the time in slothful idleness, 

Of your royal palace it is not the guise, * 
But to do somewhat each man doth him ’dress: 
For how should Cato else be called wise, 

But that his bookis, which he did devise. 
Record the same? or why is had in mind 
Plato, but for that he left writing behind 

For men to look on? Aristotle also, 

• Of philosophers called the principal, 

Old Diogenes, with many other mo, 
Demosthenes, that orator royal, 

That gave H£schines such a cordial. 

That banished was he by his proposition, 

Against whom he could make no contradiction? 

Composition. difficult. Compose. * 4 motion. 



Dame Pallas to the Queen of Fame 

Soft, my good sister, and there a pause: 

And was iEschines rebuked as ye say? 
Remember you well, point well that clause; 
Wherefore then rased ye not away 
His name? or why is it, I you pray, 

That he to your court is going and coming, 

Sith he is slandered for default of conning 1 ? 

The Queen of Fame to Dame Pallas 

Madame, your apposelle 2 is well inferred, 

And at your advantage quickly it is 
Touched, and hard for to be debarred; 

Yet shall I answer your grace as in this, 

With your reformation, if I say amiss, 

For, but if your bounty did me assure, 

Mine argument else could not long endure. • 

As touching that iEschines is remembered, 

TJiat he so should be, meseemeth it fitting. 

Albeit great part he hath surrendered 

Of his honour, whose dissuasive in writing 
To encourage Demosthenes was much exciting, 

In setting out freshely 3 his crafty persuasion, 

From which iEschines had none evasion. 

The cause why Demosthenes so famously is bruited 
Only proceeded for that he did outray » 

iEschines, which was not shamefully confuted 
But of that famous orator, I say, 

Which passed all other; wherefore I may 
Among my records suffer him named. 

For though he were vanquished, yet was he not shamed. 

‘skill. Question. ’elegantly. 



As Jeromy, in his preamble Frater Jmbrosius y 1 
From that I have said in no point doth vary, 
Wherein he reporteth of the courageous 
Words that were much consolatory 
By iEschines rehearsed to the great glory 
Of Demosthenes, that was his utter foe; 

Few shall ye find or none that will do so. 

- Dame Pallas to the Queen of Fame 

A thank to have, ye have well deserved. 

Your mind that can maintain so apparently ; 

But a great part yet ye have reserved 
Of that must follow then consequently, 

Or else ye demean you inordinately; 

For if ye laud him whom honour hath opprest, 

Then he that doth worst is as good as the best. 

But whom that ye favour, I see well, hath a name, 

Be he aever so little of substance, 

And whom ye love not ye will put to shame; 

Ye counterweigh not evenly your balance; 

As well folly as wisdom oft ye do advance; * 

For report riseth many diverse ways; 

Some be much spoken of for making of fray's; 

Some have a name for theft and bribery; 

Some be called crafty that can pick a purse; 

Some men be made of for their mockery; 

Some careful cuckolds, some have their wives curse; 
Some famous wittols , 2 and they be much worse; 

Some litherons , 3 some losells , 2 some naughty packis 8 ; 
Some facers, some bracers, some make great crackis 4 ; 

1 The Epistle of Jerome to Paulinus, prefixed to the Vulgate, 
begins with these words. 

2 tame cuckolds. 3 Synonymous names for scoundrels, 

‘boasters . . . vaunters . . . boasts. 


Some drunken dastards with their dry soules; 

Some sluggish slovens, that sleep day and night; 
Riot and Revel be in your court rolles; 

Maintenance and Mischief, these be men of might; 
Extortion is counted with you for a knight; 

These people by me have none assignement, 

Yet they ride and run from Carlisle to Kent. 

But little or nothing ye shall hear tell 

Of them that have virtue by reason of conning, 
Which sovereignly in honour should excell; 

Men of such matters make but a mumming, 1 
For wisdom and sadness 2 be set out a-sunning; 

And such of my servantes as I have promoted, 

One fault or other in them shall be noted: 

Either they will say he is too wise, 

Or else he can nought but when he is at school; 

Prove his wit, saith he, at cards or dice, 

And ye shall well find he is a very fool; 

Twish, set him a chair, or reach him a stool, 

To sit him upon, and read Jack-a-Thrumes bible, 

For truly it were pity that he sat idle! 

The Queen of Fame to Dame Pallas 

To make repugnance 3 against that ye have said 
Of very duty it may not well accord, 

But your benign sufferance for my discharge I laid, 

For that I would not with you fall at dischord; 

But yet I beseech your grace that good record ^ 
May be brought forth, such as can be found, 

With laureate triumph why Skelton should be crown’d; 

For else it were too great a derogation 

Unto^our palace, our noble court of Fame, 

*keep mi$n, silent. Seriousness. Contradiction. 


That any man under supportation 

Without deserving should have the best game: 
If he to the ample increase of his name 
Can lay any workis that he hath compiled, 

I am content that he be not exiled 

From the laureate senate by force of proscription 
Or else, ye know well, I can do no less 
But I must banish him from my jurisdiction, 

As he hath acquainted him with idleness; 

But if that he purpose to make a redress. 
What he hath done, let it be brought to sight: 
Grant my petition, I aske you but right. 

Dame Pallas to the Queen of Fame 

To your request we be well condescended: 

Call forth, let see where is your clarionar , 1 
To blow a blast with his long breath extended; 
iEo^jis, your trumpeter, that known is so far, 
That bararag bloweth in every martial war, 
Let him blow now, that we may take a view 
What poetis we have at our retinue; 

To see if Skelton will put himself in preas , 2 
Among the thickest of all the whole rout. 
Make noise enough, for clatterers love no peace! 
Let see, my sister, now speed you, go about; 
Anon, I say, this trumpeter were found out. 
And for no man hardly let him spare 
T^o blow bararag till both his eyen stare. 

Skelton Poeta 

Forthwith there rose among the throng 
A wonderful noise, and on every side n 

2 in the company % 

* trumpeter. 


They pressed in fast; some thought they were too long; 
Some were too hasty, and would no man bide; 

Some whispered, some rowned, 1 some spake, and some 

With heaving and shouting, have in and have out; 

Some ran the next 2 way, some ran about. 

There was sueing to the Queen of Fame, 

He plucked him back, and he went afore; 

Nay, hold thy tongue, quod another, let me have the name! 
Make room, said another, ye press all too sore! 

Some said, Hold thy peace, thou gettest here no more! 

*A thousand thousand I saw on a plump 3 ; 

With that I heard the noise of a trump. 

That long time blew a full terrible blast, 

Like to the boreal windes when they blow, 

That towers and townes and trees down cast, 

Drove cloudes together like driftes of snow; 

The dreadful din drove all the rout on a row; 

Some trembled, some girned, 4 some gasped, somS gazed. 

As people half peevish, 6 or men that were mazdd ! 

Anon a*i was whist, 6 as it were for the nonce. 

And each man stood gazing and staring upon other! 

With that there came in wondrously at once 
A murmur of minstrels, that such another 
Had I never seen, some softer, some louder; 

Orpheus, the Thracian, harped melodiously 
With Amphion, and other Muses of Arcady: 

Whose heavenly harmony was so passing sure, * 

So truely proportioned, and so well did agree, 

So duly entuned with every measure, 

That in the forest was none so great a tree 
But that he danced for joy of that glee; 

V '■■■■'. .vv 

buttered. 2 nearest, 3 mass. 4 grinned. 

« 6 silly. 6 $till, 


The huge mighty oaks themself did advance. 

And leap from hilles to learn for to dance. 

In so much the stump, whereto I me leant, 

Start all at once an hundredth foot back ! 

1 With that I sprang up toward the tent 

Of noble Dame Pallas, whereof I spake; 
Where I saw come after, I wot, full little lack 
Of a thousand poetes assembled together! 

But Phoebus was foremost of all that came thether 

Of laurel leaves a coronal on his head, 

With hairs encrisped yellow as the gold. 
Lamenting Daphne, whom with the dart of lead 1 
Cupid hath striken so that she ne wold 
Consent to Phoebus to have his heart in hold; 
But, for to preserve her maidenhood clean. 
Transformed was she into the laurel green. 

Mingle?! with mourning the most part of his muse 
O thoughtful heart, was evermore his song! 
Daphne, my darling, why do you me refuse? 

Y et look on me, that loved you so long, * 

Yet have compassion upon my paines strong! 
He sang also how, the tree as he did take 
Between his arms, he felt her body quake. 2 

Then he assurded 8 into this exclamation 
Unto Diana, the goddess immortal: 

O merciless madam, hard is your constellation, 

%o close to keep your cloister virginall, 
Enharded adamant the cement of your wall ! 
Alas, what ails you to be so overthwart, 

To banish pity out of a maiden’s heart? 

l From Ovid’s Metamorphoses , i. 471. a Ovid, Me\ i. 5 

3 broke forth. 


Why have the gods shewed me this cruelty, 

Sith I contrived first principals medicinable? 

I help all other of their infirmity, 

But now to help myself I am not able; 

That profiteth all other is nothing profitable 
Unto me; alas, that herb nor gress 
The fervent axes 1 of love cannot repress ! 

O fatal fortune! what have I offended ? « 

Odious disdain, why array’st thou me in this fashion? 
But sith I have lost now that I intended, 

And may not attain it by no meditation, 

Yet, in remembrance of Daphne’s transformation, 
xA.ll famous poets ensueing after me 
Shall wear a garland of this laurel tree. 

This said, a great number followed by and by 
Of poetis laureat 2 of many diverse nations; 

Part of their names I think to specify: 

First, old Quintilian with his Declamations; 
Theocritus with his bucolical relations; 

Hesiodus, the economicar, 

And*Homerus, the fresh historiar; 

Prince of eloquence, Tullius Cicero, 

With Salusty against Lucius Cateline, 

That wrote the history of Iugurta also; 

Ovid, enshrined with the Muses nine; 

But blessed Bacchus, the pleasant god of wine, 

Of clusters engrosed 3 with his ruddy floates 4 * 

These orators and poets refreshed their throates! 

x fit$. 

formerly poet laureat merely meant a person who had taken a 
degree in grammar, including rhetoric and versification. But the 
word poet VTas applied to a writer of prose as well as verse. 
Swollen. 4 drops. 


i the garland of laurel 

Lucan, with Stacius in Achiiliedos; 

Percius pressed forth with his problems diffuse; 

Virgil the Mantuan, with his iEnidos; 

Juvenal satiric, that men maketh to muse; 

But blessed Bacchus, the pleasant god of wine, 

Of clusters engrosed with his ruddy floates 
These orators and poets refreshed their throates! 

There Titus Livius himself did advance 
•> With decades historious, which that he mingleth 
With matters that amount the Romans in substance; 
Ennius that wrote of martial war at length; 

But Blessed Bacchus, the potential god of strength, 
Of clusters engrosed with his ruddy floates 
These orators and poets refreshed their throates! 

Aulus Gelius, that noble historiar; 

Horace also with his new poetry x ; 

Maister Terence, that famous comicar, 

With Plautus, that wrote full many a comedy; 

But jessed Bacchus was in their company, 

Of clusters engrosed with his ruddy floates 
These orators and poets refreshed their throates! 

Senec full soberly with his tragedies; 

Boyce , 2 recomforted with his philosophy; 

And Maximian, with his mad ditties , 3 

How doting age would jape with young folly; 

But blessed Bacchus most reverent and holy, 

Of clusters engrosed with his ruddy floates 
These orators and poets refreshed their throates ! 

There came John Bochas with his volumes great 4 ; 
Quintus Cursius, full craftily 5 that wrate 

^.e. Horace’s Art of Poetry* 

^Boethius. z Elegiarum liber of Maximianus. 

^Boccaccio’s De Genealogia, and De Casibus Virorum et Foem in- 
arum Illustrium , rather than the Decamerone. ** 

5 skilfully. 


. f ' 


Of Alexander; and Macrobius that did treat 
Of Scipion’s dream what was the true probate; 

But blessed Bacchus that never man forgate, 

Of clusters engrosed with his ruddy floates 
These orators and poets refreshed their throates! 

Poggio also, that famous Florentine, 

Mustered there among them with many a mad tale 1 ; 
With a friar of F ranee men call Sir Gaguine, 

That frowned on me full angerly and pale; 

But blessed Bacchus, that bote 2 is of all bale, 

Of clusters engrosed with his ruddy floates 
These orators and poets refreshed their throates! 

Plutarch and Petrarch, two famous clerkis; 

Lucilius and Valerius Maximus by name; 

With Vicentius in Specula ,* that wrote noble workis; 
Propertius and Pisander, poets of noble fame; 

But blessed Bacchus, that mastris 4 oft doth frame, 

Of clusters engrosed with his ruddy floatec 
These notable poetis refreshed their throates ! 

And as I thus sadly among them avisdd, * 

I saw Gower, that first garnished our English rude, 
And Maister Chaucer, that nobly enterpris6d 
How that our English might freshly be enew6d 6 ; 
The monk of Bury then after them ensued, 

Dan 7 John Lydgate: these English poetis three, 

As I imagined, repaired unto me, 

Together in arms, as brethren embraced; 

Their apparel far passing beyond that I can tell; 

Toggio’s Facetiae, then very popular. ^remedy. 

3 The Speculum Majus (1473) of Vicentius Bello vacensis. 
‘strifes.*® 8 earnestly . . . looked. 6 polished. 

7 i.e. Dominus. 


With diamonds and rubies their tabards were trased, 
None so rich stones in Turkey to sell; 

They wanted nothing but the laurell 1 ; 

And of their bounty they made me goodly cheer., 

In manner and form as ye shall after hear. 

Maister Gower to Skelton 

•Brother Skelton, your endeavourment 
So have ye done, that meritoriously 
Y e have deserved to have an employment 
In our college above the starry sky. 

Because that ye increase and amplify 
The bruited 2 Britons of Brutus Albion, 

That well-nigh was lost when that we were gone. 

Poeta Skelton to Maister Gower 

Maister Gower, I have nothing deserved 
To have so laudable a commendation: 

To you three this honour shall be reserved, 
Erecting unto your wise examination 
How all that I do is under reformation, 

For only the substance of that I intend 
Is glad to please, and loth to offend. 

Maister Chaucer to Skelton 

Counterweighing your busy dilligence 
Of that we began in the supplement, 

Enforced are we you to recompence, 

Of all our whole college by the agreement, 

That we shall bring you personally present 
Of noble Fame before the Queenes grace, 

In whose court apointed is your place. * 

They were not poets laureate - like Skelton. ^ 2 famed. 


Poeta Skelton answereih 

0 noble Chaucer, whose polished eloquence 
Our English rude so freshly hath set out, 

That bound are we with all due reverence, 

With all our strength that we can bring about, 

To owe to you our service, and more if we moght! 
But what should I say? Ye wot what I intend, 

Which glad am to please, and loth to offend. 

Maister Lydgate to Skelton 

So am I prevented of my brethren twain 
In rendering to you thankes meritory. 

That well-nigh nothing there doth remain 
Wherewith to give you my regraciatory, 

But that I ’point you to be protonotary 
Of Fame’s court, by all our whole assent 
Advanced by Pallas to laurel preferment, 

c . 

Poeta Skelton answereth 

St) have ye me far passing my meritis extolled, 

Maister Lydgate, of your accustomable 
Bounty, and so gloriously ye have enrolled 

My name, I know well, beyond that I am able. 
That but if my workes thereto be agreeable, 

1 am else rebuked of that I intend. 

Which glad am to please, and loth to offend. 

So finally, when they had shewed their devise, r 
Under the form as I said tofore, 

I made it strange, and drew back once or twice. 

And ever they pressed on me more and more, 

Till at the last they forced me so sore, 

ThA with them I went where they would me bring, 
Unto l^ie pavilion where Pallas was sitting. 



Dame Pallas commanded that they should me convey 
In the rich palace of the Queen of Fame; 

There shall he hear what she will to him say 
When he is called to answer to his name. 

A cry anon forthwith she made proclaim. 

All orators and poetis should thither go before, 

With all the press that there was less and more. 

Forthwith, I say, thus wandering in my thought, 

How it was, or else within what hours, 

I cannot tell you, but that I was brought 
Into a palace with turretis and towers, 

Engalleried goodly with hallis and bowers, 

So curiously, so craftily, so cunningly wrought 
That all the world, I trow, an it were sought, 

Such another there could no man find; 

Whereof partly I purpose to expound. 

Whiles it remaineth fresh in my mind. 

With turcfuoise and chrysolite enpaved was the ground; 
Of beryl embossed were the pillars round; 

Of elephantes teeth were the palace gates, 

Enlozengdd with many goodly plates • 

Of gold, entached 1 with many a precious stone; 

An hundred stepis mounting to the hall, 

One of jasper, another of whales-bone; 

Of diamondis pointed was the rocky wall; 

The carpetis within and tapettis of pall 2 ; 

The chambers hangdd with clothes of Arrase; 

Envaulted with rubies the vault was of this place. 

Thus passed we forth walking unto the pretory 

Where the postes were embullioned with sapphires Indy 
blue, # 


3 fine cloths. 



Englazed glittering with many a clear story; 

Jacinths and smaragdis out of the florth 1 they grew 
Unto this place all poetis there did sue, 

Wherein was set of F ame the noble Queen, 

All other transcending, most richly beseen, 

Under a glorious cloth of estate, 

Fret all with orient pearles of Garnate, 

Encrowned as empress of all this worldly fate, * 

So royally, so richly, so passing ornate, 

It was exceeding beyond the common rate. 

This house envirown was a mile about; 

If xii. were let in, xii. hundred stood without. 

Then to this lady and sovereign of this palace 

Of pursuivants 2 there pressed in with many a diverse tale; 
Some were of Poyle, 3 and some were of Thrace, 

. Of Limerick, of Lorain, of Spain, of Portingale, 

From Naples, from Novern, and from Rouncevale, 

Some from Flanders, some from the sea-coast, r 
Some from the main-land, some from the French host: 

With, How doth the north? What tidings in the south? 

The west is windy, the east is meetly weel ! 

It is hard to tell of every mannes mouth; 

A slippery hold the tail is of an eel, 

And he halteth often that hath a kiby 4 heel. 

Some shewed his safe-conduct, some shewed his charter. 
Some looked full smoothly, and had a false quarter; 


With, sir, I pray you, a little time stand back, 

And let me come in to deliver my letter! 

Another told how shippes went to wrack; 

There were many wordes smaller and greater, 

With,J as good as thou! I’faith and no better! 

1 walL % *followers. 3 Apulia. 4 blistered. 



Some came to tell truth, some came to lie, 

Some came to flatter, and some came to spy. 

There were, I say, of all manner of sorts. 

Of Dartmouth, of Plymouth, of Portsmouth also. 
The burgesses and the bailiffs of the Cinque Ports, 
With, Now let me come! and, Now let me go! 

And all time wandered I thus to and fro, 

Till at the last these noble poetis three 
Unto me said, Lo, sir, now ye may see 

Of this high court the daily business! 

From you must we, but not long to tarry, 

Lo, hither cometh a goodly mistress, 

Occupation, Fames registary, 

Which shall be to you a sovereign accessary, 

With singular pleasures to drive away the time. 

And we shall see you again ere it be prime 1 ! 

When they were passed and went forth on their way, 
This gentlewoman, that called was by name 
Occupation, in right goodly array, 

Came toward me, and smiled half in game; • 

I saw her smile, and I then did the same. 

With that on me she cast her goodly look; 

Under her arm, methought, she had a book. 

Occupation to Skelton 

Like as the lark, upon the summer’s day, 

When Titan radiant burnisheth his beamis bright, 
Mounteth on high with her melodious lay, 

Of the sunshine engladed with the light, 

So am I surprised with pleasure and delight 
To see this hour now, that I may say 
How ye are welcome to this court of array! • 

Troperly, the time between 6 and 9 a.m# 


Of your acquaintance I was in times past. 

Of studious doctrine when at the port salu 1 
Y e first arrived, when broken was your mast 
Of worldly trust; then did I you rescue; 

Y our storm-driven ship I repaired new, 

So well entackled, what wind that ever blow, 

No stormy tempest your barge shall overthrow! 

Welcome to me as heartily as heart can think. 
Welcome to me with all my whole desire! 

And for my sake spare neither pen nor ink; 

Be well assured I shall requite your hire, 

Your name recounting beyond the land of Tyre, 
From Sidony to the mount Olympian, 

From Babel’s Tower to the hilles Caspian. 

Skelton Poet a answer eth 

I thanked her much of her most noble offer, 
Affiancing her mine whole assurance, ^ 

For her pleasure to make a large proffer, 

Imprinting her wordes in my remembrance, 

# To owe her my service with true perseverance. 

Come on with me, she said, let us not stand! 

And with that word she took me by the hand. 

So passed we forth into the foresaid place, 

With such communication as came to our mind. 

And then she said. Whiles we have time and space 
To walk where we list, let us somewhat find 
To pass the time with, but let us waste no vspnd. 

For idle janglers have but little brain: 

Words be swords, and hard to call again! 

Into a field she brought me wide and large, 
E*iwalled about with the stony flint, 

* x safe port, harbour. 


Strongly embattled, much costious of charge: 

To walk on this wall she bade I should not stint. 

Go softly, she said, the stones be full glint 1 ! 

She went before, and bade me take good hold: 

I saw a thousand gates new and old. 

Then questioned I her what those gates meant; 

Whereto she answered, and briefly me told, 

How from the east unto the Occident, 

And from the south unto the north so cold, 

These gates, she said, which that ye behold, 

Be issues and ports from all manner of nations; 

And seriously she shewed me their denominations. 

They had writing, some Greek, some Hebrew, 

Some Roman letters, as I understood; 

Some were old written, some were written new. 

Some characters of Chaldy, some French was full good; 
But one gate specially, whereas I stood. 

Had graven in it of chalcedony a capital A. 

What gate Gall ye this? And she said, Anglia. 

The building thereof was passing commendable; 

Whereon stood a leopard, crowned with gold and stones, 
Terrible of countenance and passing formidable, 

As quickly touched 2 as it were flesh and bones, 

As ghastly that glares, and grimly that groans, 

As fiercely frowning as he had been fighting, 

And with his former foot he shook forth this writing, 

Formidanda nimis Jovis ultima fulmina tollis: 

Unguibys ire par at loca singula livida curvis 
Quam mo do per Phoebus nummos raptura Celano; 

Arma, lues, luctus, fel, vis, fraus, bar bar a tellus; 

Mille modis err as odium tibi quaerere Martis: 

Spreto spinet o cedant saliunc a roseto . 3 

slippery. Executed as much to the .life. 

3 I cannot make anything of this. 


Then I me leant, and looked over the wall: 

Innumerable people pressed to every gate. 

Shut were the gates; they might well knock and call, 
And turn home again, for they came all too late. 

I her demanded of them and their estate* 1 
Forsooth, quod she, they be haskardis and rebawdis, 2 
Dicers, carders, tumblers with gambawdis. 3 

Furtherers of love, 4 with bawdry aquainted, 

Brainless blinkardis 5 that blow at the coal, * 

False forgers of money, for coinage attainted, 

Pope-holy hypocrites, as they were gold and whole, 
Pole-hatchetis, that prate will at every ale-pole, 6 
Riot, reveller, railer, bribery, theft, 

With other conditions that well might be left. 

Some feign themselves fools, and would be called wise, 
Some meddling spies, by craft to grope thy mind, 
Some disdainous dawcocks 7 that all men despise. 

False flatterers that fawn thee, and curs of kind 
That speak fair before thee and shrewdly behind; 
Hither they come crowding to get them a name, 

But hailed they be homeward with sorrow and shame! 

With that I heard guns rush out at once, 

Bowns, bowns, bowns! 8 that all they out cried; 

It *made some limp-legged and bruised their bones; 
Some were made peevish, 9 porishly pink-eyed, 

That ever more after by it they were espied; 

And one was there, I wondered of his hap, 

For a gun-stone, I say, had all to-jagged his cap: 

Ragged and dagged, and cunningly cut, 

The blast of the brimstone blew away his brain; 

Condition. Pascals . . . ribalds. 3 gambols. 4 pimps. 
6 sluggards. 6 Cronies that gossip round the ale-house sign. 
7 stuck~up ignoramuses. 8 i.e. the reports of the guns. 9 silly. 


Mazed as a March-hare, he ran like a scut 1 ! 

And, sir, among all methought I saw twain, 

The one was a tumbler, that afterwards again 
Of a dicer, a devil way, grew a gentleman, 

Pierce Prater the second, that quarrelis began; 

With a pellet of peevishness they had such a stroke. 

That all the days of their life shall stick by their ribs! 
Foo, foisty bawdias! some smelled of the smoke! 

" I saw divers that were carried away thence in cribs, 
Dazing after dotterels, like drunkards that dribs. 2 
These titivels with tampions were touched and tapped 8 ; 
Much mischief, I hight you, among them there happed. 

Sometime, as it seemeth, when the moon-light 
By means of a grisily endarked cloud 
Suddenly is eclipsdd in the winter night. 

In like manner of wise a mist did us shrowd. 

But well may ye think I was nothing proud 
Of that adventure, which made me sore aghast. 

In darkness thus dwelt we, till at the last 

The clouds began to clear, the mist rarified; 

In an herber 4 I saw, brought where I was, • 

There birds on the briar sang on every side; 

With alleys ensanded 5 about in compass, 

The banks enturfed with singular solas, 

Enrailed with rosers, 6 and vines engraped; 

It was a new comfort of sorrowis escaped. 

In the midst of a conduit, that curiously was cast, 

With pipes of gold, engushing out streams; 

Of crystal the clearness these waters far past, 

Enswimming with roaches, barbellis, and breams, 
Whose scales ensilvered against the sun-beams 

x hare. 2 dribbles. 

8 1 suppose: These stupid fellows had stoppers put in tlfeir mouths. 
Enclosed garden. 5 sanded walks. # jose~bushes. 


Englistered, that joyous it was to behold. 

Then furthermore about me my sight I revol’d, 1 

Where I saw growing a goodly laurel tree, 

Enverdured with leaves continually green; 

Above in the top a bird of Araby 

Men call a phoenix, her wings between 
She beat up a fire with the sparks full keen; 

With branches and boughes of the sweet olive, 

Whose fragrant flower was chief preservative 

Against all infections with rancour inflamed. 

Against all baratous bruises of old, 

It passed all balmes that ever were named, 

Or gums of Araby so dearly that be sold. 

There blew in that garden a soft pipling cold 
Enbreathing of Zephyrus with his pleasant wind; 

All fruits and flowers grew there in their kind. 

Dryads there danced upon that goodly soil, 

With the Nine Muses, Pierides by name; 

Phyllis and Testalis, their tresses with oil 

Were newly enbibed 2 ; and round about the same 
Gfeen tree of laurel much solacious 3 game 
They made, with chapelets and garlands green; 

And foremost of all Dame Flora, the queen 

Of summer, so formally she footed the dance; 

There Cyntheus sat twinkling upon his harp-strings 
And Iopas 4 his instrument did advance, 5 
The poemes and stories, ancient inbrings 6 
Of Atlas astrology, and many noble things, * 

Of wandering of the moon, the course of the sun, 

Of men and of beasts, and whereof they begun, 

devolved, turned. 2 anointed. 3 pleasant. 

4 the Carthaginian bard. 

5 Here, and for the next two stanzas, cf. Virgil, JBneid , i. 740. 

6 doctrines (?^. 


What thing occasioned the showers of rain, 

Of fire elementar in his supreme sphere. 

And of that pole arctic which doth remain 
Behind the tail of Ursa so clear; 

Of Pliades he preached with their drowsy chere, 1 
Emoistured with misling and aye dropping eye, 

And where the two Triones 2 a man should espy. 

And of the winter days that hie them so fast, 

And of the winter nights that tarry so long, 

And of the summer days so long that do last, 

And of their short nights; he brought in his song 
How wrong was no right, and right was no wrong: 
There was countering of carols in metre and verse 
So many, that long it were to rehearse. 

Occupation to Skelton 

How say ye? is this after your appetite? 

May tjois content you and your merry mind? 

Here dwelleth pleasure, 3 with lust 3 and delight 3 ; 
Continual comfort here ye may find. 

Of wealth and solace no thing left behind; t 
All thing convendble 4 here is contrived,* 

Wherewith your spirites may be revived. 

Poeta Skelton answereth 

Questionless no doubt of that ye say; 

Jupiter himself this life might endure; 

Tine joy exceedeth all worldly sport and play; 

Paradise this place is of singular pleasure: 

O well were him that hereof rnight be sure. 

And here to inhabit and aye for to dwell! 

But, goodly mistress, one thing ye me tell. 

Aspect, looks. 2 i.e. Ursa major and minor, tffe Wain. 

3 All synonymous words, of course. 4 meet, fit. 



Occupation to Skelton 

Of your demand shew me the content, 

What it is, and where upon it stands; 

And if there be in it any thing meant, 

Whereof the answer resteth in my hands, 

It shall be loosed full soon out of the bands 
Of scrupulous doubt; wherefore your mind discharge, 
And of your will the plainness shew at large. 

Poeta Skelton answereth 

I thank you, goodly mistress, to me most benign, 

That of your bounty so well have me assured; 

But my request is not so great a thing 

That I ne force what though it be discurdd 1 ; 

I am not wounded but that I may be cured; 

I am not laden of liderness with lumps , 2 * * * 
As dazed dotardis that dream in their dumps. 


Occupation to Skelton 

Novg what ye mean, I trow I conject; 

God give you good year, ye make me to smile! 

Now, by your faith, is not this the effect 
Of your question ye make all this while, 

To understand who dwelleth in yond pile, 

And what blunderer is yonder that played diddle diddle? 
He findeth false measures out of his fond fiddle. 

Interpolate! 3 que industriosum postulat interpreiem , s$tira in 
vatis adversarium . 8 

1 That I do not care though it be discovered. 

2 i.e. I am not laden with lumps' of sluggishness. 

®An interpolated satire against the poet’s adversary, which 

demands an®industrious interpreter. (It certainly does! I leave the 

reader to make what he can of it.) 



Tressis agasonis species prior, altera Davi: 

Aucupium culicis, limis dum torquet ocellum, 

Concipit, aligeras rapit, appetit, aspice, muscas ! 

Maia quaeque fovet, fovet aut que Jupiter, aut quae 
Frigida Saturnus, Sol, Mars, Venus , algida Luna, 

Si tibi contingat verho aut committer e scripto, 

Quam sibi mox tacita audant praecordia culpa / 

Hinc ruit in Jiammas , stimulans hunc urget et ilium, 

Invocat ad rixas, vanos tamen excitar ignes, 

Labra movens tacitus, rumpantur ut ilia Codro . 1 

17. 4. 7. 2. 17. 5. 18. 

18. 19. I, 19. 8. 5. 12.* 

His name for to know if that ye list, 

Envious Rancour truely he hight: 

Beware of him, I warn you; for an ye wist 
How dangerous it were to stand in his light, 

Ye would not deal with him, though that ye might! 
For by his devilish drift and graceless provision 
An whole realm he is able to set at devision: 

The first kind is a twopenny halfpenny groom [or lackey], the 
second a Davus [i.e. a slave]: He undertakes the watching of the 
gnat, while he turns his eye aslant, and, look, he seizes, snatches at, 
the winged flies! Whatever Maia cherishes, or Jupiter, or cold 
Saturn, Sun, Mars, Venus, and the chill Moon, if it happens to 
you to commit it to word or writing, how soon the heart sweats to 
itself with silent guilt! Hence he rushes into flames, stirs up 
this one and that, invokes to strife, yet kindles the ineffectual fires, 
moving the lips in silence - let Codrus [a poet hostile to Virgil] 
burst his lungs! 

2 Mr ^Richard Hughes, in his edition of Poems by John Skelton 
(Heinemann, 1924), has interpreted these figures as Rogerus 
Statham, thus giving a clue to the personality of “the poet’s 
adversary.” (See lines to Mistress Gertrude Statham further on.) 
Yet the “groom” may refer to Stephen Hawes, who was Groom 
of the Chamber under Henry VII, and who may also be referred 
to here as “Codrus,” as a poet who harboured “envious rancour” 
for Skelton. 


For when he speaketh fairest, then thinketh he most ill. 
Full gloriously can he glose, thy mind for to feel; 

He will set men a-fighting, and sit himself still, 

And smirk, like a smithy cur, at sparkes of steel; 

He can never leave work whiles it is weel; 

To tell all his touches it were too great wonder; 

The devil of hell and he be seldom assunder! 

Thus talking we went in at a postern gate; 

Turning on the right hand, by a winding stair, 

She brought me to a goodly chamber of estate. 

Where the noble Countess of Surrey 1 in a chair 
Sat honourably, to whom did repair 
Of ladies a bevy with all due reverence: 

Sit down, fair ladies, and do your diligence ! 

Come forth, gentlewomen, I pray you! she said, 

I have contrived for you a goodly wark! 

And who can work best now shall be assayed. 

A coronal of laurel with verdures light and^dark 
I have devised for Skelton, my clerk; 

For to his service I have such regard 
That of our bounty we will him reward. 

For of all ladies he hath the library, 

Their names recounting in the court of Fame; 

Of all gentlewomen he hath the scrutiny, 

In Fame’s court reporting the same; 

For yet of women he never said shame, 

But if they were counterfeits, that women them call, 

That list of their lewdness 2 with him for to brawL 

With that the tappetis and carpetis were laid, 

Whereon these ladies softly might rest, 

x Wife of Lord Thomas Howard and mother of the poet, 
Henry Howard, to whom Skelton was tutor. 

2 impudence^ 



The sampler to sew on, the laces to embraid; 

To weave in the stole some were full prest, 1 
With sleys, 2 with tavellis, 3 with hiddles 4 * well drest; 
The frame was brought forth with his weaving pin: 

God give them good speed their work to begin! 

Some to embroider put them in prease, * 

Well guiding their glowton 6 to keep straight their silk. 
Some pirling 7 of gold their work to increase 

With fingers small, and handes white as milk; 

With, Reach me the skein of tuly 8 silk! 

And, Wind me that bottom of such an hue, 

Green, red, tawny, white, black, purple, and blue. 

Of broken works wrought many a goodly thing, 

In casting, in turning, in flourishing of flowers, 

With burres rough and bottons 9 surfeling, 1 0 
In needle- work raising birdes in bowers. 

With virtue enbusied all times and hours; 

And truly of their bounty thus were they bent 
To work me this chaplet by good advisement. 

Occupation to Skelton 

Behold and see in your advertisement 
How these ladies and gentlewomen all 
For your pleasure do their endeavourment. 

And for your sake how fast to work they fall: 

To your remembrance wherefore ye must call 
In goodly wordes pleasantly comprised, 

That for them some goodly conceit be devised, 

1 ready. 2 weaver’s reeds. 3 silk-weaving instruments. 

4 The small cords through which the warp is passed in a loom, 

after going through the reed. 

6 applied themselves. 6 needle. 7 windkfg. 

8 deep red. 9 buds. 10 embroidering. 


With proper captations 1 * of benevolence, 

Ornately polished after your faculty, 

Sith ye must needs aforce a it by pretence 
Of your profession unto humanity, * 

Commencing your process after their degree, 

To each of them rendering thanks commendable, 
With sentence fructuous and termes covenable . 4 

Poeta Skelton 

Advancing myself some thanke to deserve, 

I me determined for to sharp my pen, 

Devoutly arrecting 5 my prayer to Minerve, 

She to vouchsafe me to inform and kenj 
To Mercury also heartily prayed I then. 

Me to support, to help, and to assist, 

To guide and to govern my dreadful trembling fist. 

As a mariner that amazed is in a stormy rage, 

Hardly bested and driven is to hope 
Of that the tempestuous wind will assuage, 

In trust whereof comfort his heart doth grope, 
From the ancor he cutteth the cable-rope, 
Commiteth all to God, and letteth his ship ride, 

So I beseech Jesu now to be my guide! 

To the right nolle Countess of Surrey 

After all duly ordered obeisance, 

In humble wise as lowly as I may. 

Unto you, madam, I make reconusance*! n 

My life enduring I shall write and say, 

Recount, report, rehearse without delay 
The passing bounty of your noble estate, 

Of honour and worship which hath the former date. 

1 courtship. ^attempt. 8 literature. 4 meet. 

5 raising. 8 acknowledgement. 



Like to Argia by just resemblance. 

The noble wife of Polynices kings 
Prudent Rebecca, of whom remembrance 
The Bible maketh; with whose chaste living 
Your noble demeanour is counterweighing, 

Whose passing bounty, and right noble estate. 

Of honour and worship it hath the former date. 

* The noble Pamphila, queen of the Greekes land, 
Habiliments royal found out industriously; 

Thamer 1 also wrought with her goodly hand 
Many devices passing curiously; 

Whom ye represent and exemplify, 

Whose passing bounty, and right noble estate, 

Of honour and worship it hath the former date. 

As Dame Thamarys, which took the king of Perce, 
Cyrus by name, as writeth the story; 

Dame Agrippina also I may rehearse 
0£ gentle corage and perfect memory; 

So shall your name endure perpetually, 

Whose passing bounty, and right noble estate. 

Of honour and worship it hath the former date. 

To my lady Elizabeth Howard 

To be your remembrancer, madam, I am bound, 

Like to Irene, maidenly of port, 

Of virtue and conning the well and perfect ground; 

* Whom Dame Nature, as well I may report, 

Hath freshly embeautied with many a goodly sort 
Of womanly features, whose flourishing tender age 
Is lusty to look on, pleasant, demure, and sage. 

Timarete, daughter to Mycon, the painter. (S<& Pliny, Nat. 


Good Criseyde, fairer than Polexene, 

For to enliven Pandarus’ appetite; 

Troilus, I trow, if that he had you seen, 

In you he would have set his whole delight: 

Of all your beauty I suffice not to write! 

But, as I said, your flourishing tender age 
Is lusty to look on, pleasant, demure, and sage. 

To my lady Mirrel Howard 

My little lady I may not leave behind, 

But do her service needs now I must; 

Benign, courteous, of gentle heart and mind, 

Whom Fortune and Fate plainly have dicust 1 
Long to enjoy pleasure, delight, and lust: 

The embudded blossoms of roses red of hue, 

With lillies white your beauty doth renew. ’ 

Compare you I may to Cydippe, the maid, 

That of Acontius, when she found the bill 2 
In her bosom, lord, how she was afraid ! 

The ruddy shame-facedness in her visage fill. 
Which manner of abashment became her not ill! 
Right so, madam, the roses red of hue 
VFith lillies white your beauty doth renew. 

To my lady Anne Dakers of the South 

Zeuxis that empictured fair Elene the queen, 

You to devise his craft were to seek; 

And if Apelles your countenance had seen, 

Of portraiture which was the famous Greek, 

He could not devise the least point of your cheek! 
Princess of youth, and flower of goodly port. 

Virtue, conning, solace, pleasure, comfort. 

^ 'determined. 2 billet-doux . 



Paregal 1 in honour unto Penelope, 

That for her truth is in remembrance had ; 
Fair Dijanira surmounting in beauty; 

Demure Diana womanly and sad, 

Whose lusty looks make heavy heartis glad! 
Princess of youth, and flower of goodly port. 
Virtue, conning, solace, pleasure, comfort. 

To Mistress Margery Wentworth 

With margerain 2 gentle. 

The flower of goodlihead , 3 
Embroidered the mantle 
Is of your maidenhead. 

Plainly I cannot glose; 

Ye be, as I devine. 

The pretty primrose, 

The goodly columbine. 

With margerain gentle, 

♦ The flower of goodlihead, 

Embroidered the mantle 
Is of your maidenhead. 

Benign, courteous, and meek, „ 
With wordes well devised; 

In you, who list to seek. 

Be virtues well comprised. 

With margerain gentle, 

The flower of goodlihead, 
Embroidered the mantle 
Is of your maidenhead. 

To Mistress Margaret Tylney 

I you assure, 

.Full well I know 


1 Quite equal. a marjoram. 3 goodliness. 



My busy cure 1 
To you I owe; 

Humbly and low 
Commending me 
To your bountie. 

As Machareus 
Fair Canace , 2 
So I, ywis, 

Endeavour me 
Your name to see 
It be enrolled. 

Written with gold. 

Phaedra ye may 
Well represent; 

Intentive aye 
And diligent, 

No time mispent; 
Wherefore delight 
I have to write 

Of Margarite, 

Pearl orient, 

Lode-star of light, 

Much relucent; 

Madam regent 
I may you call 
Of virtues all. 

To Mistress Jane Blennerhasset 

What though my pen wax faint, 
And hath small lust to paint? 
Yet shall there no restraint 

x care. 

Their tale told by Gower, Conf. Am. 



Cause me to cease, 

Among this prese , 1 
For to increase 
Your goodly name. 

I will myself apply, 

Trust me, intend vely, 

You for to stellafy; 

And so observe 
That ye ne swerve 
For to deserve 
Immortal fame. 

Sith Mistress Jane Hasset 
Small flowers helped to set 
In my goodly chapelet, 

Therefore I render of her the memory 
Unto the legend of far Laodamy. 


To Mistress Isabel Pennell 

By Saint Mary, my lady, 

Your mammy and your daddy 
Brought forth a goodly baby! 

My maiden Isabel, 

Reflaring rosabel , 2 
The fragrant camomel; 

The ruddy rosary,* 

The sovereign rosemary, 

The pretty strawberry; 

The columbine, the nept , 4 
The gillyflower well set, 

The proper violet: 


3 company. 

2 Odorous fair-rose. 




Ennewed 1 your colour 
Is like the daisy flower 
After the April shower; 

Star of the morrow gray, 

The blossom on the spray, 

The freshest flower of May; 

Maidenly demure, 

Of womanhood the lure; 

Wherefore I make you sure 
It were an heavenly health. 

It were an endless wealth, 

A life for God himself, 

To hear this nightingale 
Among the birdes smale 
Warbeling in the vale, 

Dug, dug, 

Jug, jug, 

Good year and good luck, 

With chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck! 

To Mistress Margaret Husse^ 

Merry Margaret, 

As midsummer flower, 

Gentle as falcon 
Or hawk of the tower: 

With solace and gladness, 

Much mirth and no madness. 

All good and no badness; 

So joyously, 

So maidenly, 

So womanly , 

Her demeaning 
In every thing, 

Far, far passing 
That I can indite. 

Or suffice to write 



Of Merry Margaret 
As midsummer flower, 

Gentle as falcon 
Or hawk of the tower. 

As patient and still 
And as full of good will 
As fair Isaphill , 1 

Sweet pomander , 2 
Good Cassander , 3 
Steadfast of thought, 

Well made, well wrought, 

Far may be sought 
Ere that he can find 
So courteous, so kind 
As Merry Margaret, 

This midsummer flower, 

Gentle as falcon 
Or hawk of the tower. 

* To Mistress Gertrude Statham 

Though ye were hard-hearted, 

And I with you thwarted 
With wordes that smarted, 

Y et now doubtless ye give me cause 
To write of you this goodly clause, 
Mistress Gertrude, 

With womanhood endued, 

With virtue well renewed. 

I will that ye shall be 
• In all benignity 

Like to Dame Pasiphae; 

For now doubtless ye give me cause 
To write of you this goodly clause, 
Mistress Gertrude, 

With womanhood endued, # 

1 Hypsipyle. 2 ball of perfume. ’Cassandra. 



With virtue well renewed. 

Partly by your counsel. 

Garnished with laurel 
Was my fresh coronal; 

Wherefore doubtless ye give me cause 
To write of you this goodly clause, 
Mistress Gertrude, 

With womanhood endued. 

With virtue well renewed. 

To Mistress Isabel Knight . 

But if I should requite your kindness, 
Else say ye might 
That in me were great blindness 
I for to be so mindless, 

And could not write 
Of Isabel Knight. 

It is not my custom nor my guise 
To leave behind 

Her that is both womanly and wise, - * 
And specially which glad was to devise 
The means to find 
To please my mind 

In helping to work my laurel green 
With silk and gold: 

Galathea, the maid well beseen , 1 
Was never half so fair, as I ween, 
Which was extoll’d 
A thousand fold 

By Maro, the Mantuan prudent , 2 
Who list to read! 

But, an I had leisure competent, 

I could shew you such a precedent 
In very deed 


Occupation to Skelton 

Withdraw your hand, the time passes fast: 

Set on your head this laurel which is wrought; 
Hear you not iEolus for you bloweth a blast? 

I dare well say that ye and I be sought 
Make no delay, for now ye must be brought 
Before my lady’s grace, the Queen of Fame, 
Where ye must briefly answer to your name. 

Skelton Poeta 

Casting my sight the chamber about, 

To see how duly each thing in order was, 
Toward the door, as we were coming out, 

I saw Maister Newton sit with his compass, 

His plummet, his pencil, his spectacles of glass. 
Devising in picture, by his industrious wit, 

Of my laurel the process every whit 

Fortlfwith upon this, as it were in a thought, 
Gower, Chaucer, Lydgate, these three 
Before remembered, me courteously brought 
Into that place whereas they left me, • 
Where all the said poets sat in their degree. 
But when they saw my laurel, richly wrought. 

All other beside were counterfeit they thought 

In comparison of that which I wear! 

Some praised the pearl, some the stones bright: 
Welbwas him that thereupon might stare! 

• Of this work they had so great delight: 

The silk, the gold, the floweris fresh to sight, 
They said my laurel was the goodliest 
That ever they saw, and wrought it was the best. 

In her estate there sat the noble Queen • 

Of Fame. Perceiving how that I was come, 



She wondered, methought, at my laurel green; 

She looked haughty, and gave on me a glum: 
There was among them no word then but mum! 
For each man harkened what she would to me say; 
Whereof in substance I brought this away. 

The Queen of Fame to Skelton 

My friend, sith ye are before us here present, 

To answer unto this noble audience, 

Of that shall be resound ye must be content; 
And, for as much as by the high pretence 
That ye have now thorough pre-eminence 
Of laureate triumph, your place is here reserved, 
We will understand how ye have it deserved. 

Skelton Poeta to the Queen of Fame 

Right high and mighty princess of estate, ~ 

In famous glory all other transcending, 

Of your bounty the accustomable rate 

Hath been full often and yet is entending 
To all that to reason is condescending, 

But if hasty credence, by maintenance of might, 
Fortune to stand between you and the light. 

But such evidence I think for to induce, 

As so largely to lay for mine indemnity, 

That I trust to make mine excuse 

Of what charge soever ye lay against me; ^ 
For of my bookis part ye shall see, 

Which in your records, I know well, be enrolled. 
And so Occupation, your registrar, me told. 

Forthwith she commanded I should take my place; 
Calliope pointed me where I should sit 



With that, Occupation pressed in apace; 

Be merry, she said, be not afeard a whit. 

Your discharge here under mine arm is it! 

So then commanded she was upon this 
To shew her book, and she said. Here it is. 

The Queen of Fame to Occupation 

Your book of remembrance we will now that ye read; 

If any records in number can be found 
What Skelton hath compiled and written indeed, 
Rehearsing by order, and what is the ground, 

Let see now for him how ye can expound; 

For in our court, ye wot well, his name cannot rise 
But if he write oftener than once or twice. 

Poeta Skelton 

With that of the book loosened were the clasps: 

The margent was illumined all with golden rails 
And byse, 1 empictured with gressops 2 and wasps, 

With butterflies and fresh 3 peacock tails, 

Enflored with floweris and slimy snails; 

Envived picturis well touched and quickly; 

It would have made a man whole that had been right sickly 

To behold how it was garnished and bound, 

Encovered over with gold of tissue fine; 

The clasps and bullions* were worth a thousand pound; 
With balasses 5 and carbuncles the borders did shine; 
With aurum musicum 6 every other line 
Was written. And so she did her speed, 

Occupation, immediately to read. 

^zure. 2 grass-hoppers. 3 gay. * 4 studs. 

S rubies, found by Marco Polo in Balasham. ^mosaic gold n 


Occupation readeth and expoundeth some part of Skelton’s 
books and ballads with ditties of pleasure , inasmuch as it 
were too long a process to rehearse all by name that he 
hath compiled \ etc . 

Of your orator and poet laureate 

Of England, his worlds here they begin! 

In primis the Book of Honourous Estate; 

Item, the Book how men should flee sin; 

Item, Royal Demeanance worship to win; 

Item, the Book to speak well and be still; 

Item, to learn you to die when ye will 1 ; 

Of Virtue also the sovereign interlude; 

The Book of the Rosiar 2 ; Prince Arthur’s Creation; 

The False Faith that now goeth, which daily is renewed; 
Item, his Dialogues of Imagination; 

Item, Automedon of Love’s Meditation; 

Item, New Grammar in English compiled; 

Item, Bouge of Court, where Drede was beguiled; 

His comedy, Achademios called by name; 

Of Tully’s Familiars the translation 3 ; 

Item, Good Advertisement, that brainless doth blame; 

The Recule against Gaguin of the French nation; 

Item, the Popinjay , 4 that hath in commendation 
Ladies and gentlewomen such as deserved, 

And such as be counterfeits they be reserved; 

And of Sovereignty a noble pamphlet; 

And of Magnificence a notable matter, c 

*A version, probably, of the same piece translated from the Latin 
by Caston: A lityle treatise , short and abridged , spekyng of the arte 
and crafte to knme well to dye . . . (1490). 

2 i.e. A Laud and Praise made for our Sovereign Lord the King \ 
(See p. 29.) . 

“Praised in Caxton’s preface to The Poke of Eneydos % 1490. 

'Speak, Parrot (I suppose). 


How Counterfeit Countenance of the new jet 1 

With Crafty Conveyance doth smatter and flatter, * 
And Cloaked Collusion is brought in to clatter 
With Courtly Abusion; who printeth it well in mind 
Much doubleness of the world therein may find; 

Of Mannerly Maistress Margery Milk and Ale, 

To her he wrote many matters of mirth; 

Yet, though I say it, thereby lieth a tale, 

fior Margery winched , 2 and brake her hinder-girth; 
Lor, how she made much of her gentle birth ! 

With, Gingerly , 3 go gingerly! her tail was made of hay; 
Go she never so gingerly, her honesty is gone away! 

Hafd to make ought of that is naked nought; 

This fustian* mistress and this giggish gase , 6 
Wonder is to write what wrenches 6 she wrought, 

To face out her folly with a midsummer mase 7 ! 

With pitch she patched her pitcher should not erase 8 ; 
It may well rhyme, but shrewdly it doth accord, 

To pick ou* honesty of such a potshord! 

Patet per versus. 

Hinc puer hie natus: vir conjugis hinc spoliatus 9 
Jure thori ; est foetus Deli de sanguine cretus; 

Hinc magis extollo, quod erit puer alter Apollo ; 

Si quaeris qualis? meretrix castissima talis; 

Et ralis, et ralis et reli qualis. 

A good herring of these old tails; 

Find no more such from Wanfleet to Wales! 


Et reliquae omeliae de diver sis tract atibus . 

Of my lady’s grace at the contemplation , 9 
Out of French into English prose, 

fashion. a kicked. 3 Carefully. Vulgar. 

®silly goose. *ruses. 7 a mad fancy.* 

8 that it should not break. ^command. 



Of Man’s Life the Peregrination, 

He did translate, interpret, and disclose; 

The Treatise of Triumphis of the Red Rose, 
Wherein many stories are briefly contained 
That unremembered long time remained; 

The Duke of York’s creancer 1 when Skelton was, 
Now Henry the Eight, King of England, 

A treatise he devised and brought it to pass, 

Called Speculum Principle, to bear in his hand, ■- 
Therein to read, and to understand 
All the demeanour of princely estate, 

To be our King, of God preordinate; 

Also the Tunning of Elinor Rumming, 

With Colin Clout, John Ive, 2 with joforth 3 Jack! 
To make such trifles it asketh some conning, 

In honest mirth parde requireth no lack; 

The white appeareth the better for the black, 

After conveyance 4 as the world goes, 

It is no folly to use the Welshman’s hose 5 ; 

The umbles 6 of venison, the bottle of wine, 

To fair Mistress Anne 7 that should have been sent. 
He ’ftrote thereof many a pretty line, 

Where it became, and whither it went. 

And how that it was wantonly spent; 

The Ballad also of the Mustard Tart, 

Such problems to paint it ’longeth to his art; 

Of one Adam all a knave, late dead and gone, — 
Dormiat in pace , 8 like a dormouse! — 

He wrote an Epitaph for his grave-stone, 

With wordes devout and sentence agerdouse. 

For he was ever against Goddis house, 

1 tutor. 2 A heretic, temp. Edward IV. 3 gee-up! 

4 dishonesty. 5 i.e. equivocation. 6 entrails. 

o ’See ballad Womanhood, wanton , ye want . 

8 He sleeps in peace. 8 severe. (See p. 477.) 


All his delight was to brawl and to bark 
Against Holy Church, the priest, and the clerk. 

Of Philip Sparrow, the lamentable fate, 

The doleful destiny, the careful chance. 

Devised by Skelton after the funeral rate; 

Yet some there be therewith that take grievance, 
And grudge thereat with frowning countenance; 
But what of that! hard is it to please all men; 

Who list amend it, let him set to his pen! 

F or the guise nowadays 
Of some jangling jays 
Is to discommend 
That they cannot amend, 

Though they would spend 
All the wits they have. 

What ails them to deprave 
Philip Sparrow’s grave? 

His Dirige> x her Commendation 

* Can be no derogation, 

But mirth and consolation. 

Made by protestation, 

No man to miscontent 
With Philip’s interment 
Alas, the goodly maid, 

Why should she be afraid? 

Why should she take shame 
That her goodly name. 

Honourably reported, 

* Should be set and sorted, 

• To be matriculate 

With ladies of estate? 

I conjure thee, Philip Sparrow, 

By Hercules that hell did harrow, 

And with a venomous arrow , 


Slew the Epidaurs, 

One of the Centaurs, 

Or O nocentaurs, 

Or Hippocentaurs; 

By whose might and main 
An hart was slain 
With homes twain 
Of glittering gold; 

And of the apples of gold 
Of Hesperides withold, 

And with a dragon kept 
That nevermore slept, 

By martial strength 
He won at length 5 
And slew Geryon 
With three bodies in one; 

With mighty courage 
Adaunted the rage 
Of a lion savage; 

Of Diomedes stable 
He brought out a rabble 
Of coursers and rounces 1 
With leapes and bounces; 

And with mighty lugging, 
Wrestling and tugging. 

He plucked the bull 
By the horned skull, 

And offered to Cornucopia - 
And so forth per cetera\ 

Also by Hecate’s bower 
In Pluto’s ghastly tower; 

By the ugly Eumenides, 

That never have rest nor ease; 
By the venomous serpent 
That in hell is never brent, 

In Lerna the Greekis fen 


That was engendered then; 

By Chimera’s flames. 

And all the deadly names 
Of infernal poste , 1 
Where soules fry and roaste; 

By the Stygian flood. 

And the streames wood , 3 
Of Cocytus’ bottomless well; 

By the ferryman of hell, 

Charon with his beard hoar, 

That roweth with a rude oar. 

And with his frownsed foretop 
Guideth his boat with a prop; 

I conjure Philip, and call. 

In the name of King Saul, 

Primo Regis express, 

He bade the Pythoness 
To witch-craft her to ’dress, 

And by her abusions, 

And damnable illusions, 

4 % ' 

And marvelous conclusions, 

And by her superstitions, 

Of wonderful conditions. 

She raised up in that stead 
Samuel that was dead; 

But whether it were so, 

He were idem in numero 
The self-same Samuel, 

Howbeit to Saul he did tell 
The Philistines should him ascry , 3 

* And the next day he should die, 

I will myself discharge 
To lettered men at large! 

But, Philip, I conjure thee 
Now by these names three, 

Diana in the woodes green, 

2 wild. 


3 assail. 



Luna that so bright doth sheen, 

* Prosperina in hell, 

That thou shortly tell, 

And shew now unto me 
What the cause may be 
Of this perplexitie! 

lnferias y Philippe y tuas Scroupe pulchra foanna 

Inst ant er petiit : cur nostri carminis illam 

Nunc pudet f est sero ; minor est infamia vero. 1 

Then such that have disdained. 

And of this work complained, 

I pray God they be pained 
No worse than is contained 
In verses two and three 
That follow as ye may see: 

Luride y cur y livor y volucris pia funera damnas? 

Talia te rapiant rapiunt quae fata volucrem ! 

Est tamen invidia mors tibi continual 

The grunting and the groigning of the gronning^ swine 3 ; 

Also the mourning of the maple-root; 

How the green coverlet suffered great pine , 4 

When the fly-net was set for to catch a coot, 

Struck one with a bird-bolt 5 to the heart-root; 

Also a devout Prayer to Moses’ horns, 

Metrified merrily, mingled with scorns; 

Of pageantes 6 that were played in Joyous Guard; 

He wrote of a mews 7 through a mud wall; 

Thilip, your obsequies the fair Joanna ardently longed for: why 
is she now ashamed of our song? It is too late; shame is less than 

2 Why, green Envy, do you condemn the sacred funeral rites of 
the bird? May the fate which overtook the bird seize upon thee! 
Yet is malice a perpetual death to thee. 

3 Against 4 venomous tongues (perhaps) . 4 pain. 

5 a blunt arrow used to kill birds. 6 pranks. ’opening. 



How a doe came tripping in at the rear ward. 

But, lord, how the parker 1 was wroth withal! ! » 

And of Castle Angel 2 the fenestrali, 

Glittering and glistering and gloriously glazed, 

It made some men’s eyen dazzled and dazed. 

The Repeat 3 of the Recule of Rosamondis bower, 

Of his pleasant pain there and his glad distress 

In planting and plucking a proper jeloffen flower; 

But how it was, some were too reckeless. 
Notwithstanding it is remediless; 

What might she say? what might he do thereto? 

Though Jack said nay, yet Mock there lost her shoe 5 ; 

How then like a man he won the barbican 
With an assault of solace at the long last; 

The colour deadly, swart, bio, and wan 
Of Ixione, his limbs 6 dead and past. 

The cheek and the neck but a shorte cast 7 ; 

In Fortune’s favour ever to endure, 

No man living, he saith, can be sure; 

How dame Minerva first found the olive tree, * 

And planted it where never before was none; 

An hind enhurt, hit by casualty, 

Recovered when the forester was gone; 

The harts of the herd began for to groan, 


s “And the Pope fled into Castle Angell” (Cavendish, Life of 
Wolseti ) . 

3 Recital. ^carnation. 

5 1 think it means, “lost her good reputation.” A knight who 
conquered in combat was said to win his shoes. 

®Dyce has “her lambes.” Mr. Hughes (op. cit.) suggests the 
above reading, which helps to restore meaning to the passage. 

7 This may refer to Ixion’s cramped position on wheel, he. 
a short space between his cheek and neck (?). 



The hounds began to yearn 1 and to quest* 

With little business standeth much rest. 

His Epitomes of the miller and his joly make 2 * 

How her blee 8 was bright as blossom on the spray, 

A wanton wench and well could bake a cake* 

The miller was loth to be out of the way! 

But yet for all that, be as be may. 

Whether he rode to Swaffham or to Some , 4 
The miller durst not leave his wife at home! 

With, Woefully Arrayed, and shamefully betrayed; 

Of his making devout meditations* 

Vexilla regis he devised to be displayed* 

With Sacris solemniis , and other contemplations. 
That in them comprised considerations* 

Thus passeth he the time both night and day. 
Sometime with sadness, sometime with play; 

Though Gallen and Dioscorides, 

With Hippocrates and Maister Auycen , 8 
By their physic doth many a man ease, 

$.n d though Albumasar can thee inform and ken 
What constellations are good or bad for men, 

Yet when the rain raineth and the goose winketh, 
Little woteth the gosling what the goose thinketh! 

He is not wise against the stream that striveth* 

Dun is in the mire - 6 dame, reach me my spur! 
Needs must he run that the devil driveth* ^ 

When the steed is stollen, spar 7 the stable-doosi 
A gentle hound should never play the cur* 

*give tongue. 2 mate. Complexion. 4 Soham. 

5 An Arabian physician of the tenth century. 

•A Christmas game, in which Dun (a cart-horse) is supposed t< 
be stuck in the mud. 



It is soon espied where the thorn pricketh, 

And well woteth that cat whose beard she licketh; 

With Marione clarion, sol, lucern, 1 
Grand juir^ of this French proverb old, 

How men were wont for to discern 

By Candlemas Day what weather should hold, 

But Marione clarion was caught with a cold. 

And all overcast with cloudes unkind. 

This goodly flower with stormes was untwind 2 ; 

This jillyflower gentle, this rose, this lily flower, 

This primrose peerless, this proper violet. 

This columbine clear and freshest of colour. 

This delicate daisy, this strawberry prettily set, 

With froward frostes, alas, was all to-fret*! 

But who may have a more ungracious life 
Than a childis bird and a knavis wife? 

Think what ye will 
Of this wanton bill. 

By Mary Gipsy, 

Quod scrip si, scripsi: 

Uxor tua , sicut vitis, 

Habetis in custodiam, 

Custodite sicut scitisy 
Secundum Luc am, etc.* 

Of the Bonehams of Ashridge beside Berkhampstead, 5 
That goodly place to Skelton most kind, 

damp. * destroyed. 8 altogether consumed. 

4 W$tat I have written, I have written [Vulgate, Joan. xk. 22]. 
Your wife, like a vine, you have in confinement, guard her as with 
statutes, according to Luke, etc. (Vulgate, Luc. i. 13, “Fear not . . . 
thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son”). 

* The college of the Bonhommes. It was founded expressly in 
honour of the blood of Jesus, which its Founder, Edward, Earl of 
Cornwall {temp. Henry III), is said to have brought to England. 
(See Todd’s History of the College of Bonhommes, 1823.) 


Where the sang royal is, Christes blood so red, 

Whereupon he metrified after his mind; 

A pleasanter place than Ashridge is, hard were to find, 
As Skelton rehearseth, with wordes few and plain, 

In his distichon made on verses twain; 

Fraxinus in clivo frondetque viret sine rivo , 

Non est sub divo similis sine flumine vivo 1 ; 

The Nation of Fools 2 he left not behind; 

Item, Apollo that whirled up his chair, 

That made some to snur and snuf in the wind; 

It made them to skip, to stamp, and to stare, 

Which, if they be happy, have cause to beware 
In rhyming and railing with him for to mell, 

For dread that he learn them their A.B.C. to spell! 

Poeta Skelton 

With that I stood up, half suddenly afraid; 

Suppleeing to Fame, I besought her grace, 

An that it would please her, full tenderly I prayed, 

Out of her bookes Apollo to rase. 

Najf, sir, she said, what so in this place 
Of our noble court is once spoken out 
It must needs after run all the world about. 

God wot, these words made me full sad; 

And when that I saw it would no better be, 

^he ash-tree on the hill [or ridge] blooms and flourishes without 
a brook. 

There is not another like it under the sky without a living stream. 
2 Not the Ship of Fools , a few chapters of which were included 
by mistake among Skelton’s works. Perhaps this refers to the 
lines in Against a Comely Coistrown , which begins: 

“Of all nations under the heaven, 

These frantic fools,” etc. 

But this is doubtful. 



But that my petition would not be had, 

What should I do but take it in gre 1 ? 

For, by Jupiter and his high majestie, 

I did what I could to scrape out the scrolls, 

ApoHo to rase out of her ragman rolls! 

Now hereof it irketh me longer to write; 

To Occupation I will again resort, 

Which read on still, as it came to her sight, 

Rendering my devices I made in disport 
Of the Maiden of Kent called Comfort, 

Of lovers’ testaments and of their wanton willis, 

And how lollas loved goodly Phillis; 

Diodorus Siculus of my translation 2 

Out of fresh Latin into our English plain , 3 
Recounting commodities of many a strange nation; 

Who readeth it once would read it again; 

Six volumes engrosed together it doth contain. 

But when of the laurel she made rehearsall, 

All orators, poets, with other great and small, 

A thousand thousand, I trow, to my dome , 4 
Triumpha, triumphal they cried all about! 

Of trumpets and clarions the noise went to Rome; 

The starry heaven, methought, shook with the shout; 
The ground groaned and trembled, the noise was so stout! 
The Queen of Fame commanded shut fast the boke. 

And therewith suddenly out of my dream I woke. 

My minS of the great din was somedele amazed, 

I Viped mine eyen for to make them clear; 

*take it kindly. 

*Still in MS. at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. An 
edition was, at one time, being prepared by the E.E.T.S. 

3 i.e. from the Latin of Poggio. 



Then to the heaven spherical upward I gazed, 
Where I saw Janus, with his double chere, 1 
Making his almanac for the new year; 

He turned his tirikis, his volvel ran fast: 

Good luck this new year! the old year is past. 

Mens tibi sit co?isulta, petis? sic consule menii ; 
Aemula sit Jani, retro speculetur et ante . 2 

Skeltonis alloquitur librum suum . 3 

lie, Britannorum lux 0 radios a, Britannum 
Carmina nostra pium vestrum celebrate Catulluml 
Dicite , Skeltonis v ester Adonis erat; 

Dicite , Skeltonis v ester Homer us erat, 

Barbara cum Latio pariter jam currite versa ; 

Et licet est verbo pars maxima texta Brit anno. 

Non magis incompta nostra Thalia pat et, 

Est magis inculta nec mea Calliope. 

Nec vos paeniteat rabiem tolerare caninam , 

Nam Maro dissimiles non tulit ille minas, 

Immunis nec enim Musa Nasonis erat. 4 r 


Go, little quair, 5 
Demean you fair! 


2 Your mind must be consulted, you say? Well, consult your 

Let it emulate Janus, looking back and front. 

3 Skelton addresses his own book. 

4 Go, radiant light of the Britons, make known our song% your 
worthy British Catullus. Say Skelton was your Adonis; say Skelton 
was your Homer; though foreign, you now run on a par with Latin 
verse. The greater part is woven of British words; nor is our Thalia 
too uncouth, nor my Calliope too unlearned. Nor are you sorry to 
bear with dog’s madness; for even great Virgil bore the brunt of 
similar threats and even Ovid’s muse was not exempt. 

5 book. 


Take no despair. 

Though I you wrate 
After this rate 
In English letter; 

So much the better 
Welcome shall ye 
To some men be; 

For Latin works 
Be good for clerks; 

Yet now and then 
Some Latin men 
May haply look 
Upon your book. 

And so proceed 
In you to read, 

That so indeed 
Y our fame may spread 
In. length and bread. 

But then I dread 
Y e shall have need 
You for to speed 
To harness 1 bright, 

By force of might, 

Against envy 
And obloquy; 

And wote ye why? 

Not for to fight 
Against despite, 

Nor to derain 8 
Battle again 3 
Scornful disdain, 

Nor for to chide, 

Nor for to hide 
You cowardly; 

But courteously 
That I have penn’d 



3 against. 



For to defend, 

Under the banner 
Of all good manner, 

Under protection 
Of sad correction, 

With toleration 
And supportation 
Of reformation. 

If they can spy 
Any word defaced 
That might be rased, 

Else ye shall pray 
Them that ye may 
Continue still 
With their good will. 

Ad serenissimam Majestatem Regiam , par iter cum Domino 
Cardinally Legato a latere honorific at is simo, etc . 1 


Pvrge, liber , celebrem pronus regem venerare 
Henricum octavum , resonans sua praemia laudis. 
Cardineum dominum par iter venerando salutes , 
Lagatum a latere , et fiat memor ipse precare 
Prebendae , quam promisit mihi credere quondam , 
Meque suum ref eras pignus sperare salutis — 

Inter spemque metum . 2 

To the Most Serene Royal Majesty, equally with theTord 
Cardinal, the most honourable legate a latere. 

2 Go, book, fall before the great King Henry VIII and worship 
him, re-echoing with his glories. Greet too, with equal reverence, 
the great Cardinal, legate a latere , and may he be mindful to 
sue for the prebend which he promised to entrust to me some day, 
and give me ground to hope for his protection - between hope and 


’Tween hope and dread 
My life I lead, 

But of my speed 
Small sickerness 1 ; 

Howbeit I rede 2 
Both word and deed 
Should be agreed 
In nobleness. 

Or else, etc.